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July 8th, 2010

Texas Maritime Lawyers Closely Watch the Fifth Circuit Panel Today

Panel members of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the Justice Department’s appeal today concerning their attempts to delay U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s decision last month to overturn a six-month deepwater drilling moratorium.  Despite Judge Feldman’s striking down of Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium for its failure to prove that economic damage inflicted upon the drilling industry was worth the imagined safety problems of uninterrupted exploration, the government continues to talk about instituting its second moratorium.

The government claims, in part that Judge Feldman was wrong to substitute his judgment for that of the Interior Department.  The logic leading to the moratorium however is inherently flawed.  It does not automatically follow that just because BP’s Macondo well blew out that suddenly every other deepwater drilling operation is about to burst.  Putting a big fat moratorium on BP might be fair, but why penalize the hard-working offshore crewmembers, local businesses supporting the drilling industry and all of their families?

The three-judge panel in New Orleans will hear arguments Thursday from lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit filed by companies that oppose the Obama administration’s temporary offshore drilling ban. The case, however is not being heard on an expedited basis.  The panel’s decision, therefore, could take months which will feel like forever to Gulf Coast residents already being affected by the oil spill.

The Interior Department halted new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells to protect the Gulf of Mexico from another environmental disaster while it studies the risks of deepwater drilling.  However, much of the American public is in strong opposition to banning all deepwater drilling because of BP’s safety mistakes.  The harm caused by the deepwater drilling moratorium is already extensive and will only continue to cause pain to an already ravaged Gulf Coast.  All the moratorium has done so far is force Americans out of work and send our oil business packing for overseas markets.

The government is asking the 5th Circuit panel for an order that would keep the moratorium in place while they appeal last month’s ruling.

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