Gulf offshore drilling moratorium halted by New Orleans judge

Judge Martin Feldman, a federal judge in New Orleans, has put a stop to the six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects imposed by President Obama after the explosion and sinking of the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon.

Hornbeck Offshore Services, Bollinger Entities, and several others that provide services to the offshore drilling industry sought the help of US District Judge Feldman in overturning the moratorium that halted new permit approval for deepwater drilling and halted drilling of 33 wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Feldman ruled today that the moratorium was put in place based on a false assumption that because the Deepwater Horizon failed, others posed an immediate danger.

"An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country," Feldman wrote in his ruling.

The White House will appeal.

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