The Interior Department has conducted the first sale of leases on drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP spill last year. It comes after environmental groups failed to block the sale.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar traveled to New Orleans to announce bids on leases for the western Gulf off Texas. He says deepwater drilling is now safer than it was before the BP well exploded, spilling more than 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.
"There's third-party verification so it's not just the operator who's doing the testing. We have a number of safeguards in place. That doesn't mean that we're not going to build upon those safeguards to make them even safer in the future, because we are."
He also announced the start of restoration projects BP is funding to repair environmental damage done to the Gulf.