U.S. drilling ban overturned -- again

Sept. 2, 2010 at 9:21 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- A motion filed by the U.S. federal government to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a moratorium on deep-water drilling was overturned, a judge ruled.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in May issued a 6-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling following the April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, an incident that resulted in one of the worst oil spills in world history.

Companies working in the offshore drilling industry in the United States challenged the ban saying Washington had no evidence to back claims current drilling operations were a threat.

Salazar issued a second moratorium in July after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman agreed with the offshore drilling industry. Feldman struck down the second moratorium by saying it was "substantially the same as the first one," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington argues the ban is necessary to give the government and the industry time to address safety and response issues for drilling activity in waters deeper than 500 feet.

Opponents of the ban complain it hurts the U.S. southern coast's economy, which was already battered by the oil spill.

The Journal said the federal government wanted to keep the moratorium in place through November but might reconsider when it reviews industry practices.

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