Judge Strikes Down Oil Moratorium

The Obama administration said Tuesday it would immediately appeal a ruling by a federal judge who upheld a challenge by Big Oil against a moratorium that shutdown deepwater offshore drilling for six months.

District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans said he granted the preliminary restraining order because the government assumed erroneously that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.

President Obama issued the moratorium shortly after the Deepwater Horizons platform exploded April 20, killing 11 crew and creating the worst accidental environmental disaster in the nation’s hsitory. He had hoped the ban would provide time to ensure other wells are operating safely.

The moratorium shut down 33 exploratory wells and suspended all oil drilling permit applications.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense and … potentially puts the safety of those on the rigs and the safety of the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now.”

Mother Jones reported Wednesday:

According to the most recently available financial disclosure form for 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.

The decision follows on the heels of a good day for Big Oil.

It hammered President Obama for his moratorium on deepwater off-shore drilling in London. A BP house organ concluded the 60,000 barrels of oil from its blowout well since April 20 was “good for business” in the affected Gulf states.

What else would one expect from an industry acting like Marie Antoinette telling French peasants to eat cake if they didn’t appreciate the king’s regime.

Oil titans couldn’t resist the temptation to vent their anger at the World National Oil Companies Congress meeting in London Tuesday prior to the court decision which the judge earlier had said would not be rendered until Wednesday

Transocean Ltd. president and CEO Steven Newman said “There are things the administration could implement today that would allow the industry to go back to work tomorrow without an arbitrary six-month time limit.”

Transocean owns the Deepwater Horizon leased by BP.

An industry attorney argued Monday that the six-month suspension of drilling work could prove more economically devastating than the spill itself.
“This is an unprecedented industrywide shutdown. Never before has the government done this,” the attorney testified.

At the London talks, heckled by protesters, Chevron global vice president for business development Jay Pryor said the drilling moratorium would “constrain supplies for world energy.”

“It would also be a step back for energy security,” said Pryor.

Fact: American off-shore oil drilling produces only 2% of the world market supply.

BP says it has paid out $2 billion to try to unsuccessfully cap the blowout and pay damage claims to affected fishermen, businesses and state and local governments. Last week it agreed to an Obama administration request to establish a $20 billion escrow fund and turn its disbursements over to a government-appointed administer.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports BP’s in-house on-line press organ told an audience intended only for BP worshippers:

“Much of the region’s [nonfishing boat] businesses — particularly the hotels — have been prospering because so many people have come here from BP and other oil emergency response teams.”

One BP reporter dispatched to Louisiana quoted a local seafood entrepreneur the region relies on the oil industry for work and “There is no reason to hate BP.”

Indeed, one tourist official in a local town makes it clear that “BP has always been a very great partner of ours here…We have always valued the business that BP sent us.”

That clapping you hear in the background comes from the grave of Joseph Goebbels.

Cross posted onThe Remmers Report

Posted comments are welcome and automatically go to my email address at [email protected] Remmers’ varied career spans 26 years in the newspaper business. Read a more thorough resume on The Remmers Report.

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Author: JERRY K. REMMERS, TMV Columnist

Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.