Federal Judge Blocks Gulf Offshore Drilling Moratorium
June 23, 2010
The Associated Press reports a federal judge struck down the Obama administration''s six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the government rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger, too. The Interior Department had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama believes strongly that drilling at such depths does not make sense and puts the safety of workers. The White House promised an immediate appeal. Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium. Feldman sided with the companies, saying in his ruling the Interior Department assumed that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger. His ruling prohibits federal officials from enforcing the moratorium until a trial is held. He did not set a trial date.