District Judge Martin Feldman, sitting in New Orleans, issued two documents yesterday in Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Salazar, an Order (3 pages of pure legalese) & an Order and Reasons (22 pages of well-put exposition). Bloomberg news summarizes Judge Feldman's excellent ruling nicely. A WSJ editorial adds more summary detail, plus notes this nugget from the judge's ruling that shows at minimum chicanery--less charitably, dishonesty--by the White House in preparing the expert report:
The judge also went out of his way to express "uneasiness" over the Administration's claim that its safety report (which recommended the ban) had been "peer reviewed" by experts. Those experts have since publicly disavowed the ban, explaining that the ban was added to the report only after they had signed off on an earlier draft. White House green czar Carol Browner dismissed their complaints, saying "No one's been deceived or misrepresented."
But Judge Feldman directly contradicted Ms. Browner, describing the report's claim of "peer review" as "factually incorrect." Moreover, the Administration's "hair-splitting explanation" of what the experts did or didn't support "abuses reason, common sense, and the text at issue."
I took a few numbers from the decision, highly informative at that: Gulf drilling employs 3,600 rigs, which provide 31 percent of domestic oil production & 11 percent of domestic natural gas production; 64 percent of active leases are drilling in deeper than 1,000 of water. Feldman writes (p. 21):
On the record now before the Court, the defendants (i.e., the federal government) have failed to cogently reflect the decision to issue a blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium with the facts developed during the thirty-day review. The plaintiffs have established a likelihood of successfully showing that the Administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the moratorium.
At the end, the Judge Feldman wrote (p. 220:
An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.
An oil guy on Greta van Susteren last night said that of 33 rigs inspected, 31 passed with flying colors; the other 2 corrected minor problems. The government plans to file an appeal.
Bottom Line. Team Obama used an atom bomb to kill a fly (BP). Courts do not like this.
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