Tags: | US | Gulf | Oil | Spill | Moratorium

Court Rejects Bid to Restore Drilling Moratorium

Thursday, 08 Jul 2010 08:53 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the federal government's effort to restore an offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, opening the door to resumed drilling in the Gulf while the legal fight continues.

The ruling is not the final word on the Obama administration's fight to suspend new drilling projects so it can study the risks revealed by the disastrous BP oil spill.

The same appeals court is expected to hear arguments on the merits of the moratorium case in late August or early September.

While it's possible that 33 exploratory wells suspended by the moratorium could resume drilling, companies might not bother with the expense while the ultimate future of the projects hangs in the balance.

Catherine Wannamaker, a lawyer for several environmental groups that support the moratorium, said she was disappointed by the ruling but expressed confidence that the Obama administration ultimately will win its appeal.

Wannamaker said it's unclear whether any offshore companies would resume drilling because Thursday's ruling doesn't resolve the case.

"Clearly, it's legally allowed," he said. "The question is, practically speaking, will anybody do it given the uncertainty? It's hard to know what will happen."

The CEO of one of the companies that sued to stop the moratorium, Covington-based Hornbeck Offshore Services, said he didn't know if any of the companies involved planned to resume drilling.

"We need to get back to work," Todd Hornbeck said of his company, which provides vessels that serve the offshore industry. "We can't work without any drilling units working."

The moratorium, which prompted a lawsuit from oil and gas service companies, was first rejected June 22 by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.

The Interior Department appealed, asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let the temporary ban stand until it ruled on the merits of the case.

Justice Department lawyer Michael Gray argued Feldman abused his discretion when he overturned the moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on the 33 exploratory wells.

Lawyers for the several oilfield service companies argued the administration failed to show that "irreparable harm" would take place if the drilling ban was lifted.

A three-judge panel rejected the government's arguments less than two hours after a hearing on Thursday afternoon.

Two of the 5th Circuit judges seemed to disagree about who should be shown more deference: the lower-court judge or Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who imposed the moratorium.

Judge Jerry E. Smith leaned toward the judge, while Judge James L. Dennis said Salazar "is entitled to a lot of deference." Dennis partially dissented in the ruling, saying that he would have let the moratorium remain in place.

"Why are we in a position to second-guess the secretary on whether or not there's a threat of irreparable harm?" Dennis asked at the hearing.

After Feldman overturned the moratorium in June, Salazar announced he would issue a new, refined moratorium that reflects offshore conditions. Gray, the Justice lawyer, said Salazar was still considering crafting a new moratorium.

Hornbeck said he can only "wait and see" whether the Interior Department tries to impose a new moratorium.

"It's not solving any problems. It's creating new problems," he said. "There are better solutions than that."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a vocal critic of the moratorium, watched the hearing from the courtroom gallery. He said he was pleased by the ruling, but he remains concerned about the de facto moratorium that is keeping drilling from resuming and the threat of a second moratorium from Salazar.

"The federal government not being able to do its job is not a reason for thousands of Louisianians to lose their jobs," Jindal said.

——

Associated Press writer Alan Sayre contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Obama to Sharpton: Dems in Key Races Support me

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 22:31 PM

Some Democrats running for re-election or challenging Republican incumbents in next month's midterm elections have dista . . .

Oscar de La Renta, Designer for First Ladies, Celebrities, Dies at 82

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 22:01 PM

Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who dressed generations of celebrities in red carpet and evening gowns, ha . . .

Bipartisan Support for Ebola Travel Ban Growing in House

Monday, 20 Oct 2014 21:17 PM

Although the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several prominent Republicans in Congress ha . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved