Obama loses in court again over deepwater drilling moratorium
A deepwater drilling moratorium, issued in May and struck down as too broad June 22, was not reinstated Thursday by a federal appeals panel, but drilling is unlikely to resume any time soon.
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“The individual case is, we have an oil spill we haven’t contained,” answered Mr. Gray. “We have an oil spill we haven’t stopped, and our resources are taxed to the max.”Skip to next paragraph
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Judge James Dennis, the dissenting vote on the panel, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has legal standing to halt deepwater drilling. Addressing the companies’ lawyers, Judge Dennis said a ruling in their favor would require saying that Secretary Salazar is acting irrationally. “That’s a long reach for us,” he said. “The law says he is entitled to a lot of deference and he’s invested with the authority to make this judgment.”
Carl Rosenblum, attorney for the companies, invoking Marbury vs. Madison, argued that the “judicial branch needs to review whether the federal government is following its own rules and regulations.” He also claimed that the Obama administration is trying to intimidate the court with its statement about issuing a second moratorium. “To come out with this is overreaching and an insult to judicial review,” Mr. Rosenblum said. [Editor's note: The original version misnamed Marbury vs. Madison.]
He told the judges that the plaintiffs could prove actual harm from the moratorium, citing lost oil industry jobs and oil rigs moving from the Gulf to foreign countries to operate.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a critic of the moratorium, filed a friend of the court brief supporting the oil companies and attended Thursday's hearing. Henry Dart, counsel for Governor Jindal, told the judges that a drilling moratorium would be a “coup de grace” for the state’s economy, which is still recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita and is now facing the ongoing oil spill disaster.
Later, Jindal said outside the courthouse that such a moratorium would lead to thousands of lost jobs. "The federal government not being able to do its job is not a reason for thousands of Louisianians to lose theirs," he said.
Legal and oil industry experts say oil companies are unlikely to resume exploratory drilling in the Gulf anytime soon, with or without a ban, with so much uncertainly regarding new federal safety and environmental regulations and possible congressional action affecting offshore drilling.
Questioned by Judge Smith, US Attorney Gray said he did not know when Secretary Salazar might issue the new moratorium. “The secretary is looking at a new decision based on new information,” Gray said. “It is not tied to this court’s decision.”
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