Oil Spill

Appeals Court Rules Against Obama Administration on Oil Drilling Moratorium


A federal appeals court has ruled against the Obama administration in its attempt to immediately reinstate a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the moratorium while the government appeals a trial judge’s ruling that the administration had failed to justify the need for a moratorium, according to the New York Times and Reuters.

The court ruled (PDF posted by Politico) 2-1, with Judges W. Eugene Davis and Jerry Smith finding the government had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury if the moratorium is lifted, Politico reports.

The government had argued the moratorium was needed to protect the environment and worker safety, while the industry had said it would cause job and economic losses. The Interior Department is preparing a revised moratorium to address concerns raised by the courts, Reuters says.

The liberal group Alliance for Justice issued a report (PDF) earlier this week that found Davis and Smith had represented oil and gas interests while in private practice, the National Law Journal reports. Davis revealed up to $30,000 in investments in oil and gas concerns in his 2008 disclosure forms.

The same year, the dissenting judge on the panel, James Dennis, reported extensive financial holdings in at least 18 companies in the energy industry worth between $15,000 and $300,000, the report said. Dennis sold a stake in oil rig owner Transocean in 2006.

The report was titled “Judicial Gusher: The 5th Circuit’s Ties to Oil.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Who Overturned Drilling Moratorium Had Oil Investments; US Plans New Ban”

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