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Parish official to Obama: Stop moratorium on drilling

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Parish president says drilling moratorium hurting local economy
  • 'It will kill us,' LaFourche Parish president says
  • Obama said moratorium in place as Gulf oil investigation continues

(CNN) -- A Gulf Coast official is pleading with President Barack Obama to scrap the moratorium on new oil drilling and exploration as the investigation of the massive oil spill continues, saying the economic impact to her Louisiana parish would be too much to bear.

Charlotte Randolph, president of LaFourche Parish, said she spoke to Obama in person during his visit to the oil-stricken region Friday.

"I expressed to the president that we are dying because of the oil spill, but if he allows this suspension to happen it will kill us," she told reporters Saturday, noting that her parish has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

"First I'm hearing from fisherman who are dying because of the oil spill," she said. "Now I'm hearing from the oil and gas industry and all of those associated services that they will be put out of business."

Obama's tour of the oil damage along the Gulf Coast came a day after he announced steps to limit new oil drilling and exploration during the oil spill. The president said he is "fully engaged" and ultimately responsible for what he called a catastrophe.

The new steps, announced Thursday, were in response to a report on the Gulf spill by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that Obama ordered last month. Salazar briefed Obama and senior advisers on the report Wednesday night.

Obama said the government would seek aggressive new operating standards and requirements for offshore oil companies. For now, he said, the government was suspending planned oil exploration of two locations off the coast of Alaska, canceling pending lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and a proposed lease sale off Virginia, and halting for six months the issuance of new permits for deep-water wells.

Obama called the steps part of a broader government response to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again.

"We'll continue to do whatever is necessary to protect and restore the Gulf coast," Obama said.