Judge overturns drilling moratorium

On Monday I wrote that oil companies were trying to overturn Obama’s moratorium on drilling wells deeper than 500 feet. Well, so far they’ve won:

A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Drilling services shares jumped on the news.

I highlighted that last sentence because it turns out the New Orleans federal judge, Martin Feldman, owns quite a bit of stock in drilling companies. Me thinks they should have found a more unbiased judge to rule on this case.

3 Comments

  1. Dylan

    I think it would be safe to assume that the vast majority of people with any wealth in Louisiana own shares in the oil and gas industry. Its a cornerstone of the economy in the gulf states.

    According to this survey the vast majority of people in Louisiana continue to support the offshore drilling industry.
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/06/poll-louisiana-loves-bobby-jindal—-and-offshore-drilling.php

    This isn’t a surprise, as is usually the case the people that actually live in the regions in which oil and gas developent take place appreciate the economic development associated with it. Its the people far away that like looking at pictures of cute animals and trees that are usually opposed, not the actual locals that enjoy the animals and trees. The trade offs are well worth it in the long run. Deep water drilling has proven safe, its the gross negligence by BP on this well that was the problem.

  2. Chris

    Dylan,
    Louisiana public opinion (and the value of drilling stocks) should have no bearing on the rulings of a federal judge. Nor should the people of Louisiana get to decide to whether or not the entire Gulf coast, and parts of the East Coast get covered in oil. Sure it might be in their immediate financial interests, but what about the long term implications and costs?

  3. Ian

    You could see it as the judge sticking up for the people of LA in a way if you buy into the notion that drilling should continue for the sake of the economy in the Gulf region. You could also say he was only attacking the legality of the moratorium (I don’t believe that). Maybe the moratorium was enacted illegally, but it doesn’t mean that a legal avenue to do the same thing shouldn’t be pursued.

    I don’t personally believe that drilling should stop permanently, as I see that as being unrealistic. I don’t see a problem with halting drilling until better safety regulations and inspections have been performed. Hopefully the Obama administration looks for other avenues to implement this change.