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New drilling permits? Yes, but...

From NBC's Doug Adams
At a hearing this morning before Senate Enviornmental and Natural Resources committee this morning, an Interior Department official clarified the issue of whether the administration had approved new drilling permits in the past month.

David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior, explained that no permits for "initial" drilling had been issued in the past month -- that is, a permit "to put a new hole in the ground." 

He said the Department issued a halt any new APD permits (Application for Permit to Drill) and that none have been issued since April 20th, the date of the Deepwater Horizon accident.

However, there is a second kind of drilling permit, called a "bypass permit" that a company may ask for -- often for safety reasons if they have to move or make changes to an ongoing drilling operation. Those kinds of permits -- for ongoing operations -- have been approved in the past month.

Administration officials also testified that, as of yesterday, BP had spent $760 million for the cleanup effort so far and the government had spent more than $72 million so far. The officials said they intended to have BP reimburse taxpayers for the government money spent.