Federal judge blocks moratorium on deepwater drilling; Administration will appeal

In a ruling handed down yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman struck down the Obama administration’s 6 month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a Louisiana-based ferry service, Hornbeck Offshore Services, which claimed the suspension was arbitrarily imposed and would harm rather than help the Gulf region.  Many Louisiana business and political leaders voiced concerns that the moratorium would cause the rigs to move elsewhere, resulting in a decline in one of the areas most profitable economic sectors.

Judge Feldman agreed there was a lack of justification and stated: “What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar immediately responded, stating he will issue a new order imposing a moratorium on deepwater drilling.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Salazar said the new order will contain additional information making clear why the six-month drilling pause was necessary in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, pointing specifically to inadequate safety precautions by industry on deepwater wells.

The White House is also appealing the judge’s ruling.

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