A federal judge has struck down the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House imposed the ban last month as the BP oil spill spiraled into what many have called the worst environmental disaster in US history. But on Tuesday, US District Judge Martin Feldman called the suspension “heavy-handed” and “overbearing.” A Reagan appointee, Feldman has extensive stock holdings in energy companies, including Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig where the explosion occurred, and Halliburton, which also performed work at the site. Feldman also owns stock in two of BP’s largest shareholders, BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration will appeal the ruling.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “We will immediately appeal to the Fifth Circuit. The President strongly believes, as the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice argued yesterday, that continuing to drill at these depths, without knowing what happened, is—does not make any sense and puts the safety of those involved—potentially puts safety of those on the rigs and safety of the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the President does not believe we can afford right now.”
In a statement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he will issue a new order reimposing the drilling ban. Salazar says he will detail the reasons for the ban to address Judge Feldman’s concerns.