A federal judge in New Orleans has refused to delay his decision to strike down a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Justice Department had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to stay his ruling while it appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Feldman rejected that request Thursday. Two days earlier, he struck down the Interior Department's decision to halt approval of new permits for deepwater projects and suspend drilling on 33 exploratory wells.
The Justice Department says in court papers that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has instructed all employees to not take any action to enforce the moratorium.
It also says the department is sending letters to operators who received notices of suspension that those notices have no legal effect at this time.
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