Feds Tighten Offshore Drilling Rules All deep-water projects to require impact studies By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Aug 17, 2010 5:07 AM CDT 1 comment Comments Interior Secretary Ken Salazar operates the ROV on the deep water rig Noble Danny Adkins as he tours the rig in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Newser) – Oil companies will no longer be allowed to launch new deep-water drilling projects in US waters without submitting environmental impact studies under new guidelines announced yesterday. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the administration is banning "categorical exclusions" like the one that allowed BP to drill its ill-fated Macondo well on the basis of decades-old data, the Houston Chronicle reports. The new guidelines "serve to hold offshore operators accountable and ensure that the industry and the country are fully prepared to deal with catastrophic blowouts and oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon," said the director of the Bureau of Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement. Feds say they also plan to tighten regulation of existing deep- and shallow-water drilling projects pending an environmental analysis of the entire Gulf of Mexico.