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US federal judge stands with Big Oil, lifts moratorium on deepwater drilling

by Mike Gaworecki

June 22, 2010

A federal judge in Louisiana stood with the oil industry today and issued an injunction lifting the Obama Administration’s 6-month moratorium on new offshore exploration and existing drilling operations in deep water. Despite the fact that as much as 60,000 barrels of oil continue to pour into the Gulf of Mexico every day, the judge called the moratorium “arbitrary and capricious.”

Greenpeace BP Deepwater Disaster picture
View more images of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.It would appear there was nothing terribly arbitrary about District Court Judge Martin Feldman’s ruling, however. According to Mother Jones, the most recent financial disclosure forms filed by Judge Feldman show that he held several thousand dollars’ worth of Transocean stock as recently as 2008. Transocean, of course, owned the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig, which blew up on April 20th, 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to the massive environmental catastrophe in the Gulf. Feldman also owned stock in several other oil companies.

The Obama Admin’s moratorium suspended drilling at 33 existing deepwater wells and barred any new deepwater drilling permits from being granted. Given the rhetoric happily bandied about by Big Oil types claiming that their technology is far too advanced to permit a catastrophe on the order of, oh, say, the BP Deepwater Disaster from ever occurring, the moratorium was at best a middle-of-the-road solution. It’s quite clear that as oil grows scarcer, the solution is not to drill in ever-more remote and difficult-to-reach places but to aggressively transition off of the dirty stuff and on to clean, green renewable energy.

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We recently released a report, Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable USA Energy Outlook, that shows exactly how we could do that while leaving dirty, dangerous fossil fuels behind.

Judge Feldman’s ruling was issued in response to a suit filed by several oil companies claiming that they were being unfairly impacted due to the BP Deepwater Disaster. The oil industry’s gross negligence led to the current disaster and many more like it in the past, however, and now they’re trying to pretend that the US federal government has somehow created the current crisis with its moratorium. But it was the oil industry that produced generic cut and paste emergency response plans, relied on a dead technical expert to answer calls, and assured the government that walruses that have not existed in the Gulf for millions of years would not be affected by their operations. This is not a circus and these people can not be allowed to act like clowns pointing their finger at the government and pretending they are not the ones who engineered this disaster.

We have to stand up together against the inordinate influence of Big Oil. The oil industry and other dirty fossil fuels industries can’t be allowed to hijack our energy policy any longer. Help call for an energy revolution by joining a Hands Across the Sand event near you this Saturday.

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