Oil Spill

Judge Who Overturned Drilling Moratorium Had Oil Investments; US Plans New Ban

A federal judge who blocked the Obama administration’s effort to ban deepwater offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday has reported oil and gas investments on financial disclosure forms.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans filed 2008 disclosure forms showing investments in Transocean Ltd., the owner of BP’s failed oil rig, as well as Halliburton and several other energy companies, the Associated Press reports. Feldman did not respond to AP’s attempt to find out whether he still holds any of the investments.

Feldman blocked the six-month moratorium, saying the administration had failed to justify the need for it, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). “The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume 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,” Feldman wrote in a 22-page opinion.

“Are all airplanes a danger because one was?” Feldman wrote. “All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.”

The administration plans to appeal. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has released a statement saying he will issue a new order with information showing why it is needed, the Times says.

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