Judge blocks Gulf offshore drilling moratorium
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
President Barack Obama’s administration has halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar claimed that a special panel of experts “peer-reviewed” his recommendation and made it seem they agreed with Salazar.
The seven experts who advised President Obama on how to deal with offshore drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon explosion are accusing his administration of misrepresenting their views to make it appear that they supported a six-month drilling moratorium — something they actually oppose.
Salazar took their report and changed it. He flat out lied about what they said.
The experts, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar modified their report last month, after they signed it, to include two paragraphs calling for the moratorium on existing drilling and new permits.
The moratorium was widely expected to bring harm to the Gulf economy. Some think that Obama doesn’t really care about inflicting harm as long as it does not affect his agenda.
I am surprised that the judge actually took this step. It was, as they say in Obamaland, unexpected.
Good for Judge Feldman.