America

Judge's Nixing Of Deepwater Ban Draws Praise, Boos

Here's a quick and admittedly spotty roundup of reaction to U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman's granting of a preliminary injunction Tuesday against the Obama Administration's moratorium on deepwater oil drilling.

From the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“In light of the ongoing catastrophe spreading across the Gulf, this lawsuit to lift the federal drilling moratorium is reckless and shows a lack of respect to the people working to cleanup this mess and figure out what caused the situation in the first place,” said David Pettit, senior attorney with NRDC. “Given we don’t have those answers, to rush into drilling activities that have been shown to be loosely monitored at best would only expose the Gulf to unnecessary peril.”

The American Petroleum Institute:

“We welcome Judge Feldman’s decision to lift the moratorium on deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The administration acted appropriately in its immediate steps to inspect every rig in the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Those inspections were necessary to assure Americans that offshore operations were safe and subject to appropriate oversight...

“... The moratorium was an initial reaction to concerns about the safety of offshore oil and natural gas operations. However, an extended moratorium would have a tremendous impact on the nation’s energy security – and cause significant harm to the region of the country that was already suffering from the spill – without raising safety or improving industry procedures.

“With this ruling, our industry and its people can get back to work to provide Americans with the energy they need, and do it safely and without harming the environment.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour:

“Hopefully, the judge’s ruling will go into effect quickly and be upheld on appeal. The moratorium is bad policy.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):

“This is another bad decision in a disaster riddled with bad decisions by the oil industry. The only thing worse than one oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would be two oil spill disasters.

“This judge’s decision flies in the face of mounting evidence that there are serious safety risks that must be examined with these 33 deepwater rigs before they start drilling again.

“Ninety-seven percent of the manned rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are up and running. No one is realistically talking about shutting down offshore drilling in the Gulf.

“We would be doing the oil rig workers and citizens of the Gulf a disservice if we did  not put safety first with these few rigs. The Obama administration is right to appeal, and I fully support that effort.”

Anthony Sabino, a St. Johns University law professor:

“The judge’s ruling represents the proper use of judicial power to restrain an unchecked use of power by  the Executive Branch.

No sane person questions that the government has to prevent another “Deepwater Horizon” disaster.

But the court’s point is that the total ban was just too broad, could not be justified, and far exceeded the powers of the White House and the responsible federal agencies.

The field is clear for the President to craft a set of narrower set of restrictions that will ensure public safety, prevent a repeat of this crisis, but let responsible and safe drilling resume, something that is very good news to a lot of recently out of work people in the GoM region.

Annemarie McAvoy, Fordham University law professor and a former federal prosecutor:

“Score one for the American judicial system doing the right thing!  A federal judge today overturned President Obama's 6 month moratorium on off-shore drilling.  The oil industry took him to court, saying he had overstepped his authority, and they won.”

“There are procedures and rules to be followed, and something called separation of powers.  Although all are concerned about the oil spill, the answer is not to put many, more Americans out of work by pushing oil rigs that have already been inspected and found safe to move to other countries.”

“The Obama Administration has said that it will immediately appeal the district court decision.  Let's hope the courts continue to do the right thing.”

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