American Elephants

Never Let a Crisis Go To Waste, Even a Disastrous Oil Spill! by The Elephant's Child

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman blocked President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deepwater drilling.  Judge Feldman cut straight to the heart of the Administration’s flawed reasoning.

The blanket moratorium seems to assume, wrote the judge,” that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.” The ruling stated:

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster.  What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened…into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.

That is the assumption behind the six-month moratorium ordered by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.  It was challenged in court by three companies that provide support services to offshore drilling. Judge Feldman notes that the government has not justified what he called a “punitive” moratorium. The plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Administration “acted arbitrarily and capriciously.”

The judge noted that case law says that the court can’t substitute its judgment for that of an agency like the Interior Department, but the agency must articulate a “rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.” He also criticized the report for stating that its recommendations had been peer-reviewed by seven National Academy of Engineering experts. Five of those did not agree with the moratorium and three others who were consulted also did not agree.

Judge Feldman’s ruling validates what Louisianans have been arguing for weeks: that the Administration’s broad drilling ban isn’t justified and stands to cause even greater economic harm to this state than the devastating oil spill itself.

The Obama Administration has said it will appeal Judge Feldman’s decision.  They really want to keep that drilling ban in place.  The ban is political.  The decision suggests the government would need a much better substantive case to prevail.

The Feldman decision also lists the environmental groups that had joined the Administration’s defense against the suit.  One was the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose president, Frances Beinecke, has been appointed by President Obama to his deep water drilling commission.  Ms Beinecke has called for a ban on all offshore and Arctic drilling, as well as banning ethanol.  She is far too politically ideological and biased to serve on such a commission.  She should step down.

It is becoming clear that the Administration wants drilling shut down for political purposes.  They want to keep the pressure on so Congress will pass the cap-and-trade bill that would bankrupt the country.  Obama has his list of things he wants to do, and he doesn’t intend to let ordinary annoyances get in his way.  Shameful.

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