Another Court Orders Obama to Drill or Get Off the Pot
posted at 12:30 pm on February 18, 2011 by Jazz Shaw
The Obama administration already found itself in hot water once this year over its drilling permitorium when a federal judge effectively found them in contempt of court on the issue. Now, only a few weeks later, the judicial branch is back in action, demanding that Obama’s EPA get back to the business of approving drilling permits or demonstrate why they can not.
Court Orders U.S. to Decide on Drilling
WASHINGTON—A federal judge ordered the Obama administration to decide within 30 days whether to grant a set of five permits for deep-water drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the administration’s inaction on the requests is “increasingly inexcusable.”
The order, by Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, ratcheted up the pressure on the administration, which last fall lifted a months-long moratorium on deepwater drilling but has yet to grant any permits to drill new oil or natural-gas wells at depths greater than 500 feet.
The ruling came on the same day a consortium of large oil companies said it had fulfilled a key demand of the administration: that the industry set up a response system to quickly shut a gushing underwater well, minimizing the risk of another accident like the one last April at a BP PLC well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Energy companies have been expending billions of dollars jumping through every hoop the EPA sets in front of them in their efforts to get back to work. It seems, at long last, that they are forced to seek a judicial remedy to the matter. This case is taking place in Louisiana, one of the states hardest hit by the permitorium, so don’t expect a lot of public sympathy for the President to emerge.
With thirty days to decide, and likely a number of legal tricks up their sleeves to delay further, we still may not be close to the end of the road on this one. The real question is how many more rigs will finish pulling up stakes and heading for foreign waters before the permits begin to be issued again? And how long will it take to get them back here and back to work once that happens? By that time the job losses and total economic impact will have left a sour taste in the mouths of most residents, both for the EPA as an agency and for the President’s silent participation in this scheme.