After the BP oil spill disaster President Barak Obama ordered a moratorium on further exploration for deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for a period of six months. At the time many businesses said this was a step too far, an overreaction, and said they would challenge it through the courts.
The Moratorium covers Alaska, Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico to stop new deepwater drilling as well as new permits and active exploration. As a result of the ban some 33 rigs have been idle in the Gulf and some have been thinking of relocating. The ban had not only been of concern to local businesses, state politicians were also keen to see this ban lifted.
In response to a suit by Hornbeck Offshore Services joined by 20 other companies, Judge Martin Feldman of the US District Court in New Orleans yesterday granted an injunction against the President’s moratorium. He said that he found it too broad and insufficiently justified.
He wrote in his ruling: “If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.” He also pointed out that ‘deepwater drilling’ was insufficiently defined and there was no timeline for implementing safety measures.
In response the White House, as well as environmental groups, said it would appeal the decision saying that the President did not think potentially putting more lives in danger without knowing exactly what went on would be a mistake.
Robert Gibbs, the White House chief spokesman said: "The President strongly believes that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense, and puts the safety of those involved and the environment in the Gulf at a danger that we cannot afford."
Unless appealed successfully BP and the other operators in the area could now re-start operations.