Judge will decide by Wednesday if deepwater drilling ban holds up

Michelle Massey Jun. 22, 2010, 2:00am


U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman said on Monday he will issue a ruling by Wednesday on the legality of the federal government's six-month deepwater drilling moratorium.

Several Louisiana companies, led by Hornbeck Offshore Services, argued that the ban was arbitrary, not based on any evidence and violates the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OSCLA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Hornbeck said that the outer continental shelf drilling is not any more dangerous today than prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill on April 20.

The moratorium was issued by the Interior Department as the Obama administration attempted to show it is responding to the oil spill.

The Interior Department, through its Minerals Management Service (MMS), issued the ban on permits for new wells being drilled and ordered an immediate halt to drilling operations on 33 wells.

In response, Hornbeck Offshore Services filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the MMS on June 7 in federal court in New Orleans.

The companies are arguing the moratorium will result in thousands of workers losing their jobs and millions in lost wages. They are asking Feldman to enjoin the moratorium and declare that it violates the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OSCLA) and also the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The plaintiffs are represented by Carl Rosenblum, Grady Hurley, Alida Hainkel and Marjorie McKeithen of Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre in New Orleans and John F. Cooney of Venable in Washington, D.C.

Case No. 2:10cv01663

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