Judge Drills Hole in Deepwater Ban; Obama Promises Immediate Appeal

Oil Companies Praise Decision to Lift Moratorium

Judge Feldman said that the decision to suspend drilling in wells in depths greater than 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."

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The American Petroleum Institute praised today's ruling, saying in a written statement, "The moratorium was an initial reaction to concerns about the safety of offshore oil and natural gas operations. However, an extended moratorium would have a tremendous impact on the nation's energy security – and cause significant harm to the region of the country that was already suffering from the spill – without raising safety or improving industry procedures."

"With this ruling, our industry and its people can get back to work to provide Americans with the energy they need, and do it safely and without harming the environment," the petroleum institute said.

Judge Feldman in 2008 had holdings in companies with links to the massive oil spill. In a 2008 financial disclosure form posted online by Judicial Watch, Feldman listed interests in Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig.

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According to the Associated Press the president of Transocean, Steven Newman, has been critical of the six-month ban.

Public advocates, meanwhile, said the temporary ban doesn't go far enough.

"A federal judge's decision today to block a six-month moratorium on new deep-water drilling projects is extremely shortsighted," said Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen's Energy Program."If anything, the temporary ban that President Barack Obama declared in May should be made permanent."

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