More news of fail emerged from the Gulf region today. As you may have heard, BP knocked over their oil rig (sorry mom! accident!) and so there’s a big mess. In the interest of preventing further such messes, the Obama administration declared a six-month moratorium on further deepwater drilling in order to investigate the Deepwater Horizon catastrof**** accident and come up with new regulations.
So much for that. A Judge Martin Feldman, a US Circuit Court judge in New Orleans, blocked the moratorium this morning:
The moratorium, which the president announced May 27, temporarily halted all new [deepwater] permits. …But more than a dozen offshore oil companies sued to overturn the ban. …The White House said it plans to appeal immediately.
Government lawyers had argued that the moratorium would give needed time implement new safety regulations and for a presidential commission on drilling safety to complete its work.
But industry lawyers said in the hearing Monday that the government had failed to prove that other wells were at risk of failing. …”Never before has the government, with the stroke of a pen, shut down an entire industry for six months,” [an industry lawyer] said.
This is frustrating. The industry side is doubtless correct that the moratorium was unprecedented. Thing is, the spill was unprecedented too. And here’s another interesting tidbit:
The state of Louisiana filed an amicus brief in support of the companies, saying that it hadn’t been consulted about the moratorium, which would have significant economic repercussions in the state.
The state of Louisiana was on the side of the oil companies- an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief is a legal document filed in support of one side or another by a third party. The drilling industry is one of the biggest in Louisiana- think Boeing and logging rolled into one. It’s so big, in fact, that many federal judges in New Orleans have recused themselves from oil spill-related cases due to conflict of interest.
That isn’t to say that Judge Feldman is oil-affiliated- I have no idea if he is or not. I just bring that stuff up to highlight the conflicts of interest inherent in the legal side of this whole mess- which are doubtless only exacerbated by the political culture of good ol’ boy-ism and corruption that still reigns in the South.