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Gulf oil spill: Obama moratorium on drilling is struck down

June 22, 2010 | 11:08 am

A federal judge in Louisiana has struck down a deep-water drilling ban imposed by the Obama administration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The ruling came in a case brought by companies dependent on the oil industry in the Gulf Coast, and was supported by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. They contended that halting work on 33 drilling rigs had caused undue harm to the state's economy.

In a 22-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman called the Horizon spill "an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster." However, he continued: "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 deep-water drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm."

This "blanket moratorium, with no parameters," he wrote, "seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger."

Feldman agreed that the plaintiffs, a group of oil rig service companies, were able to show that the Obama administration acted "arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the moratorium."

-- Richard Fausset
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