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.
The interior department:
"A second deepwater blowout could overwhelm the efforts to respond to the current disaster,"
I will update the diary with links in it as fast as I can.
Text of the ruling.
A little background. The lawsuit was originally filed by Hornbeck Offshore Services, and they were then joined by dozens of other oil companies. Unfortunately, the governor of Louisiana sided with the companies, and in spite of everything that is going on the judge blocked President Obama's attempt to halt drilling for 6 months.
This could "affect White House plans to suspend deep-water oil and gas exploration while an independent commission probes the cause of the April 20 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the gulf.", according to the SF Gate.
Update [2010-6-22 21:37:17 by kirbybruno]:
A new order may be on the way
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said he would issue a new order in the coming days to enforce a freeze on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster.
Update [2010-6-22 17:49:44 by kirbybruno]:From the LA Times:"
This deeply flawed injunction underscores the need for President Obama to nominate and for the Senate to confirm federal judges who apply the law in a fair way, not ones that are biased in favor of big corporations at ordinary Americans’ expense," said Eric Pica, President of Friends of the Earth.
Update [2010-6-22 16:35:31 by kirbybruno]:Time's take on the judge's decision:
It won't be surprising in a blog called Ecocentric, but I'm siding with the greens here. Every day new evidence comes to light that demonstrates Deepwater Horizon was an accident waiting to happen—the result not just of BP's internal problems but mechanical mistakes and a failure of regulation. And most damning, oil industry executives themselves admit that they can't really respond to a blown well thousands of feet beneath the surface of the ocean. That much is obvious every day—and it seems nothing short of crazy to continue digging holes deep in the ocean that we can't fix. We need time to make that right.
Update [2010-6-22 16:35:31 by kirbybruno]: What can happen next is discussed in this Reuters Africa article.
Update [2010-6-22 16:35:31 by kirbybruno]: Talking Points Memo discusses the ruling:
The government also challenged contentions the moratorium would cause long-term economic harm. Although 33 deepwater drilling sites were affected, there are still 3,600 oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf.
Catherine Wannamaker, a lawyer for environmental groups that intervened in the case and supported the moratorium, called the ruling "a step in the wrong direction."
Update [2010-6-22 16:6:57 by kirbybruno]:More discussion of Judge Feldman at Mother Jones.
Feldman's most recent finanical disclosures are not yet available online, so it remains unclear whether he still has holdings in Transocean and a host of other firms with a stake in the verdict he rendered on Tuesday. If he does, that raises the question of whether he should have barred from hearing the case because of his financial interests. But in Louisiana it's hard to find hard to find a judge without ties to the industry. In the Gulf region, 37 of 64 federal judges have some ties to the oil sector.
Update [2010-6-22 16:6:57 by kirbybruno]: Some Washington reaction from USA Today:
"Another bad decision in a disaster riddled with bad decisions," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming."
"Today, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., another member of the Environment and Public Works panel, hailed the court's decision:
I have great respect for Judge Feldman, whom I know personally. I applaud his decision, which recognizes that the president's powers are certainly not unlimited and that this moratorium is wreaking havoc on jobs in Louisiana."
Update [2010-6-22 15:33:23 by kirbybruno]: Another story on the judge at Think Progress
Interesting Yahoo story "Judge who overturned drilling moratorium holds stock in drilling companies"
Here is the judge's wiki page.
Hornbeck's suit challenged the U.S. Mineral Management Service's legal authority to issue an industry-wide shutdown under the applicable law.
"An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country," Feldman said in his written decision dated June 22.
CBS coverage of White House Appeal.
From The Huffington Post
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.
Links from the diary below:
From Slinkerwink: GIBBS BRIEFS: Discussing BP, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says the effort to use a relief well is noted in Adm. Thad Allen's most recent briefing, which he hasn't looked at yet. "There are discussions that continue to take place ... on increased containment," he says.
Responding to news that a judge has blocked the administration's moratorium on offshore drilling, Gibbs says the White House will appeal.
"We will immediately appeal to the fifth circuit," he says. "The president strongly believes that, as the Department of Interior, Department of Justice argued yesterday, that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened is -- does not make any sense."
Gibbs adds that drilling "potentially puts the safety of the rigs and environment of the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now."
And that's it. (1:48 p.m.)
From Richard Lyon, NY Times article.
From Living in Gin: Many Federal Judges Have links to oil industry.
From Fishgrease via Yasuragi:
The industry itself isn't ready to resume deepwater. You'll note none of the big oil operators are party to this. Partnerships on every major deepwater project have placed holds on those projects while their lawyers go over the contracts.
If this judge tries to stop the moratorium, he'll be overuled within a day by a higher court.
This is nothing but Jindal expressing his willingness to suck the industry's cock.
I'm not worried. No one is going to resume deepwater anytime soon, no matter what some Louisiana judge decides.
dizzydean has some information on the judge.
From marabout40: CNN reported yesterday that one of the questions the judge had for administration attorneys was how come the govt didn't ban oil tankers from Alaskan waters after Exxon-Valdez, but we want to ban offshore drilling because of this disaster.
From greendem, Judge owns transocean stock.
Even more in benintn's twitter feed.
From FiredUpInCAa precident
anotherdemocrat shared an NPR story about the impact of judges with oil links.
Update [2010-6-22 16:6:57 by kirbybruno]:Front page discussion here.