Why does this not surprise me?
In a 22-page ruling, Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of a May 28 order halting all floating offshore drilling projects in more than 500 feet of water and preventing the government from issuing new permits for such projects.
Citing the economic harm to businesses and workers in the gulf caused by the moratorium, Judge Feldman — a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan — wrote that the Obama administration had failed to justify the need for the sweeping suspension, which he characterized as “generic, indeed punitive.”
He wrote that “the blanket moratorium, with no parameters, 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.”
The White House immediately responded by saying that it would appeal the decision.
Good. But what hope is there with the current and seemingly currupt Supreme Court?
The Obama administration had argued that a six-month suspension of deepwater drilling was necessary so that the government could complete its investigation of the Deepwater Horizon accident, and make sure that other drilling operations on the outer continental shelf were safe.
But the order was challenged by a coalition of businesses that provide services and equipment to offshore drilling platforms. The companies sued, asking the judge to declare the moratorium to be invalid and arguing that there was no evidence that existing operations were unsafe.
If I remember correctly, there was no evidence the Deepwater Horizon drill was unsafe either - until it exploded killing 11 workers and spewing anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.
I'm sure businesses that rely on oil companies to stay afloat are deeply concerned about the welfare of the residents, wildlife and environment in the area. Do I hear the echo of BP in the background?
The State of Louisiana filed a brief supporting the lawsuit, arguing that the moratorium would damage its economy.
I can appreciate the concern of Gulf Coast residents for their livelihood and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes - not for a day, not for a minute. But sometimes short-term sacrifices have to be made to ensure that the future will provide a safer and more secure life style.
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."
"We think it overlooks the ongoing harm in the Gulf, the devastation it has had on people's lives," she said. "The harm at issue with the Deepwater Horizon spill is bigger than just the Louisiana economy. It affects all of the Gulf."
UPDATE FROM MOTHER JONES: According to the most recently available financial disclosure form for US District Court Judge Martin Feldman, he had holdings of up to $15,000 in Transocean in 2008. He has also recently owned stock in offshore drilling or oilfield service providers Halliburton, Prospect Energy, Hercules Offshore, Parker Drilling Co., and ATP Oil & Gas