A federal judge Tuesday delivered a blow to President Obama's call for a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, granting a preliminary restraining order that prevents the U.S. Department of Interior ban from taking affect, according to a Reuters report.
Louisiana Judge Martin Feldman's ruling was a win for Hornbeck Offshore Services, which filed the lawsuit calling the ban "arbitrary and capricious." Hornbeck was joined by more than a dozen other oil-related companies.
The administration imposed the ban on May 28, roughly a month after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. Millions of gallons of oil continue to spew into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, making it the nation's worst oil spill ever. Under the ban, 33 deepwater oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were shut down as a means to take stock of whether they were operating safely.
The White House says it plans to appeal the court's ruling, which states that a ban cannot be imposed until a trial is held. Judge Feldman, however, didn't set trial date during the hearing, according to a Washington Post report.
No Proof of "Irreparable Harm"
In making his decision, Judge Feldman said the government jumped to the conclusion that because one rig failed others were subject to a similar outcome.
According to the Post, Judge Feldman said:
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 on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has argued that the moratorium on drilling and issuing of new permits would push oil companies out of the Gulf of Mexico in search of foreign waters to drill in, further compounding the job loss to the Gulf region. And in London, executives attending a large oil conference warned that a continued drilling ban would undercut the world energy supplies, according to the Post.
"Tilted in Big Oil's Favor"
Larry Schweiger, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, issued a statement in response to Judge Feldman's ruling:
What does it say about our system that even the president of the United States can't pause Big Oil's dangerous deepwater drilling? This ruling demonstrates that our entire system -- from acquiescent regulators to apologetic members of Congress to a compliant judiciary -- is tilted in Big Oil's favor.
Big Oil will stop at nothing to exploit every last drop of America's natural resources. If oil companies won't take a step back to examine safety procedures now as millions of gallons of oil invade the Gulf's critical wetlands and pristine white sands, they never will.
The Gulf's oyster farmers and its fishing industry have seen a large part of their business dry-docked. Schweiger cited Moody's estimates that point to a best-case scenario of more than 16,000 people losing their jobs along the Gulf Coast and a loss of more than $1 billion in gross domestic product.