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.
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.
“The president strongly believes… that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense, and puts the safety of those involved…and the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Except that it was the left who insisted that the rigs drill so far out!
(Hat tip: Ed S.)
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal and corporate leaders have opposed the moratorium, saying it will result in drilling rigs leaving the Gulf of Mexico for lucrative business in foreign waters. They say the loss of business will cost the area thousands of lucrative jobs, most paying more than $50,000 a year. The state’s other major economic sector, tourism, is a largely low-wage industry.
During a two-hour hearing Monday, plaintiffs’ attorney Carl Rosenblum had argued that the suspension could prove more economically devastating than the spill itself. “This is an unprecedented industrywide shutdown. Never before has the government done this,” Rosenblum said.
Interior countered that while 33 deepwater drilling sites were affected, there are still 3,600 oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf.
“There are things the administration could implement today that would allow the industry to go back to work tomorrow without an arbitrary six-month time limit,” Transocean Ltd. President Steven Newman told reporters on the sidelines of the World National Oil Companies Congress in London.