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June 23, 2010

Obama Admin to Reissue Economy-Killing Drilling Moratorium

A judge struck down the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium yesterday because it was the very definition of "arbitrary and capricious." The Administration never explained why 6 months was the appropriate amount of time or why the ban should extend to all drilling below 500 feet. The 500 feet depth particularly raised the judge's ire because the material relied on by the Interior Department was about drilling bans at 1000 feet.

Well Interior Secretary Ken Salazar doesn't want the industry to even think about getting back in gear. He's going to reissue the drilling ban.

"We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP's well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling. That evidence mounts as BP continues to be unable to stop its blowout, notwithstanding the huge efforts and help from the federal scientific team and most major oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The evidence also continues to mount that industry needs to raise the bar on blowout prevention, containment, and response planning before deepwater drilling should continue.

"Based on this ever-growing evidence, I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities."

Again, nothing there to explain why six months is an appropriate length of time or why the ban should apply to all drilling in greater than 500 feet of water. For comparison's sake, the Deepwater Horizon was operating in 5,000 feet of water when it sank.

Unfortunately, judicial review of this type of agency action is highly deferential. The Administration simply has to find some "expert" to say why six months and deeper than 500 feet are right for evaluating safety on floating oil rigs. They reissue the ban and that's that. Goodbye Gulf economy.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:23 AM

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