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Obama won't rethink drilling halt, White House says

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- The Obama administration won't reconsider its moratorium on deepwater oil drilling "without knowing exactly what happened" to cause the largest oil spill in U.S. history, a White House spokesman said Thursday.

The administration ordered the six-month halt to allow time for an investigation into the April sinking of the drill rig Deepwater Horizon. But state and federal officials in Louisiana have called for the moratorium to be lifted, arguing it puts thousands of jobs at risk on the Gulf Coast.

President Barack Obama understands "that this has economic costs," spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "But at the same time, without knowing exactly what happened, the president thought it would not be responsible to continue on a path that might cause -- without knowing the cause of the previous accident -- might cause something else to happen again."

The Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers aboard the rig and uncapped an undersea gusher of crude oil that has now spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for 52 days. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department oversees offshore drilling, told a Senate committee this week that the ban is necessary to assure Americans that exploration is safe.