Judge melts oil-drilling freeze

Oil companies defeat oil-drilling block in court

The struggle between the Obama administration and the oil industry intensified June 22 when a federal judge blocked a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil-drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Agence France-Press.

In his ruling, Judge Martin Feldman called the government’s decision to block oil drilling and exploration “invalid,” and noted that the plaintiffs in the case—32 oil companies—likely would be able to prove that the administration’s decision was too rash and hurt the economy due to loss of jobs in the oil industry.

The administration, Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior—which jointly imposed the freeze in response to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil-spill disaster that began April 20—plan to appeal.

Meanwhile, it’s been learned that Feldman had owned thousands of dollars of stock in Exxon Mobil, a company affected by the moratorium. Critics note that federal law requires judges to recuse themselves from cases posing financial conflicts of interest.