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article imageJudge nixes US offshore drilling moratorium as 'overbearing'

By Stephanie Dearing     Jun 22, 2010 in Environment
New Orleans - A judge ruled on a case brought to court by Hornbeck Offshore Services, lifting the US Department of the Interior's six-month ban on offshore drilling.
Todd Hornbeck, the Chairman, President and CEO of Hornbeck, a Louisiana-based company, issued a statement Tuesday saying "We are very pleased that the court has ruled in our favor. We also appreciate Judge Feldman having considered this case on an expedited basis. All of us here at Hornbeck Offshore are deeply saddened over the recent tragic events involving the Deepwater Horizon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that were affected and all of our fellow citizens of the Gulf Coast region whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by the severe environmental consequences of this disaster. While the federal government has announced its intent to appeal this decision, we, at Hornbeck Offshore, are ready to continue serving the needs of our customers in a safe and environmentally sound manner."
When Hornbeck filed its suit against the Government of the United States, it said the moratorium on offshore drilling was capricious and arbitrary, reported the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued his ruling Tuesday afternoon, saying that the failure with BP's Deepwater Horizon well did not mean the other oil rigs were in danger of undergoing the same sort of catastrophe. The Associated Press reported Judge Feldman said "If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing." Part of Feldman's reasoning was that if he did not overturn the moratorium, “Plaintiffs will incur immediate and irreparable harm to business…" reported Penn Energy.
Canadian Business reported that President Barack Obama responded to Feldman's decision through a spokesman, Robert Gibbs, who said "President Barack Obama believes that until investigations can determine why the spill happened, continued deepwater drilling exposes workers and the environment to "a danger that the president does not believe we can afford.""
As the news rapidly makes its way around the North American continent, some are accusing the judge of being biased, while others are applauding the decision.
Business Week reported Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was one of those applauding the overturn of the moratorium. Barbour had been agitating for a return to drilling, saying the economic impact of the moratorium could hurt the entire nation, a statement the petroleum industry had been repeating over the past few weeks. The petroluem industry is pleased with Feldman's decision.
The Huffington Post said Feldman's "financial disclosure report for 2008 ... shows holdings in at least eight petroleum companies or funds that invest in them, including Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon. The report shows that most of his holdings were valued at less than $15,000; it did not provide specific amounts." It is not known if Feldman still owns those holdings. Environmental organizations are said to be upset with Feldman's decision.
Feldman said the US Government could not enforce the moratorium while waiting for the case to go to the appeals court.
Hornbeck Offshore was supported in its case by the state of Louisiana said Automated Trader.
More about Offshore drilling, Drilling moratorium lifted, Obama, Hornbeck offshore services, District judge martin feldman
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