A ruling today by Federal Judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana granted oil drilling companies a restraining order preventing a temporary ban by the U.S. Department of Interior six-month on approval for new deepwater oil drilling.
According to the story, oil drilling companies had charged in their lawsuit that the ban would be worse for the economy than the spill, and also that the federal administration was dragging its feet on implementing measures which would "allow the industry to go back to work tomorrow without an arbitrary six-month time limit."
The department of interior argued against the charge that the ban would be as devastating to the economy as claimed, stating that less than 1% of the oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf (33 out of 3600) would be affected. The department further argued that the chance of another explosion and spill would be to great of a risk to take.
In his ruling, Judge Feldman stated that "the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning." He also rejected the idea that the failure of one rig indicates an immediate threat from all rigs.
The White House plans to appeal.
On one hand, this strikes me as both a futile effort and a delay tactic on the part of oil companies; even without a legislated ban on new drilling, the Department of Interior doesn't have to approve new permits... all they have to do is find a reason to disapprove and there is no permit. Safety standards would suffice.
Even if the department is forced to approve permits under existing criteria, a new ban could easily be enacted under different criteria, or an appeal won by the White House.
In the meantime, there is a disturbing allegation here; the idea that the administration is rejecting possible solutions to the problem (that being the ability to ensure the safety of these rigs) in favor of taking an action which will do additional harm to the economy. I have been hearing similar allegations in conversation, and on the radio, in reference to the clean-up, though I am only catching bits and pieces. Given the natureÂ of the situation, I certainly hope politics is not keeping possibilities for recovery at bay. That would be beyond evil! Unfortunately, given what we've seen from politicians at the State and Federal level so far, it's not too far-fetched to be believable.