Unanimous: Fifth Circuit Court Rejects Obama Drilling Moratorium

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision has rejected the Obama moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, upholding U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s June 22 injunction.

At a hearing on Thursday, the Department of the Interior argued that the court should reinstate the drilling ban while they wait for the full court to hear the appeal.

From the Associated Press:

Justice Department lawyer Michael Gray argued Feldman abused his discretion when he overturned the moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

Lawyers for several oilfield service companies that sued to block the moratorium, including Hornbeck Offshore Services, said the Obama administration has failed to show that the government would suffer "irreparable harm" if the drilling ban is lifted.

The court rejected the government’s argument.

Judge W. Eugene Davis said the first hearing on the merits of the appeal by the three-judge panel would take place late August or early September.  

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was in the gallery for the hearing and spoke to press outside the courthouse.  Jindal opposes a moratorium on drilling that would put tens of thousands of people out of work in Louisiana alone, devastating the coastal economy already reeling from the effects of the spill.

“The federal government not being able to do its job is not a reason for thousands of Louisianians to lose their jobs,” Jindal said.

The Obama administration approved the permits for BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in a Minerals Management Service (MMS) rife with corruption.  

The Bush administration cited BP 760 times for “egregious, willful” safety violations yet the Obama administration gave BP safety awards.

The American people are still awaiting a full investigation — and comprehensive congressional hearings — into the failure of oversight by Obama’s Department of the Interior in safety and regulatory inspections of the BP Deepwater Horizon.  

Where were the Obama MMS inspectors when BP took cost-cutting measures on the blowout preventer design?  Where are the administration’s MMS officials who accepted and approved BP disaster plan that included protecting walruses — that are not indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico — evidence of an obvious cut and paste job of the Alaska emergency plan to improperly cover the Gulf.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) revealed in questioning (video at link) at a hearing that a father-and-son government union team were the last two inspectors at the Deepwater Horizon.  After this admission, Obama’s MMS Director Liz Birnbaum was summarily fired… uh, resigned.

The need for an overhaul of safety is in the corruption of government and its regulatory functions — not a shut-down of the good operators who’ve followed the rules and met safety standards because they knew lives were on the line.

The Obama presidential campaign was largest recipient of BP campaign cash in the 2008 election cycle receiving $72,000.  BP was one of the leaders in support of Obama’s cap and trade national energy scheme rammed through the House last year.

There are billions of dollars in wealth transfers at stake in the move to inadequate and, in the case of transportation, non-existent green energy using the heavy hand of government tyranny as the driver.   

When looking for the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, look to the failures of government oversight at every turn from design to cleanup plan.  Then follow the BP money.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s statement in full (for more complete local coverage visit The Hayride):

“We’re pleased the court did not reinstate the moratorium. However, it’s clear from the ruling that this matter is not resolved and there remains uncertainty about the future of deepwater drilling and thousands of jobs in our state.

“We have very serious concerns that the Department of Interior is going to announce a second moratorium. As members of the court pointed out today during the hearing, despite the injunction against the original moratorium, we currently have a de facto moratorium because of uncertainty from the Department of Interior.

“It was clear again from today’s court arguments that the Secretary of the Interior ignored the advice of his own experts. The Secretary’s six-month moratorium was not related to the facts provided by his own hand-selected experts. Indeed, the Judge in the original case said the Department of Interior’s report to shut down deepwater drilling was inaccurate and misleading. He said the Department’s statement that their report’s recommendations were ‘peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering’ was misleading and that five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium.’

“The arguments at today’s hearing continue to show that the Administration’s six-month blanket moratorium was both arbitrary and capricious. The reality is that we absolutely want drilling to be done safely and do not want another spill or one more drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the federal government can’t adequately do its job of ensuring drilling is done safely. The hearing today showed again that there is no clear pathway from the federal government about how to increase the safety of drilling.

"The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to monitoring safe drilling. It shouldn’t take them six-months or longer for a new national commission to ensure safety measures are in place and their laws and regulations are being followed. Instead of an arbitrary moratorium, the Department of Interior should have listened to their experts and enacted the specific recommended steps from their own experts to ensure proper oversight and safe drilling.

“Unfortunately, there are serious job losses that will result from the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium which is estimated to kill 20,000 Louisiana jobs and cost us between $65 to 135 million in lost Louisiana wages each month. The reality is that the moratorium not only threatens jobs on oil rigs, but it also jeopardizes many other industries that supply our oil and gas industry and the entire communities that depend on them.”