"The future pace of drilling approvals in the Gulf of Mexico might be slowed less by new laws or regulations stemming from last year's massive spill but by a decades-old law that opens the door to longer environmental reviews and litigation.
In the wake of last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, environmental groups have dispatched attorneys to the Gulf Coast to challenge drilling under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. And some experts say that could have a profound impact on domestic oil production.
NEPA has long been a potent weapon for environmental groups and activists skeptical of drilling in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain West. But such groups had hardly ever turned to it in the Gulf."