Judge Martin Feldman, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, today ordered the administration to move quickly on permits for new deepwater oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. He said that the Interior Department was required to act on drilling applications "within a reasonable time." and called the delays "increasingly inexcusable."
Ruling in favor of Ensco, Judge Feldman ordered the Interior Department to decide within 30 days whether to approve five drilling permits sought by the company over the last year and report its compliance to the court.
"As the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster draws near, any reason that would have justified delays has, under a rule of reason, expired," Judge Feldman wrote. "Beginning to process permit applications will restore normalcy to the Gulf region and repair the public's faith in the administrative process."
The Offshore Marine Service Association praised the ruling, which came just two weeks after Judge Feldman held the Interior Department in contempt of court and ordered it to pay legal costs incurred by Hornbeck Offshore Services in another case relating to the moratorium.
"It's deja vu all over again: A federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to follow the rule of law, do its job and start acting on applications for drilling permits in the Gulf," said Jim Adams, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA).
"For nearly a year, the Obama administration has not approved a single deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf," Mr. Adams said. "This de facto moratorium on oil exploration is unreasonable, unwarranted, unfair and unlawful. It's a self-inflicted energy crisis for America--killing jobs, raising gas prices, and making us more dependent on foreign oil."
OMSA today announced a national campaign to demand President Obama stop destroying jobs and allow deepwater oil drilling to resume in the Gulf of Mexico.
The campaign kicked off with an open letter to President Obama, denouncing his illegal suspension of deepwater drilling in the Gulf. In addition to the open letter, the OMSA campaign will include advertisements, videos, public outreach, and an interactive website with the latest information on the de facto moratorium. The website can be found at http://moratorium.offshoremarine.org/omsa/.
February 17, 2011