Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has been under fire from Louisiana lawmakers and other top-ranking state officials for the snail's pace of permitting in the Gulf, assured a House committee Thursday that more permits will flow. Salazar promised to abide by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s ruling that he issue at least five permits by the end of the month.

The first permit since the deepwater Horizon disaster was issued Feb. 28 to Noble Energy Inc. Because Noble Energy’s permit meets new standards imposed after the BP disaster, its permit was approved, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced.

While most Louisiana lawmakers have been downplaying the significance of that permit, calling it a “token,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts lauded the administration's efforts, The Advocate reported.
Markey was BP’s biggest critic after the catastrophe but noted that BP owns half of Noble Energy.

“For those who say this post-spill process has been political, I think the irony of BP holding the largest stake in the well for the permit you approved tells everyone you are not playing politics,” Markey said. “You’re playing it straight.”
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