A federal judge threw out President Obama's sweeping ban on deepwater drilling yesterday, saying the White House rashly overreacted to the Gulf oil disaster. US District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans said Obama wrongly assumed that 'because one rig failed,' all rigs drilling new wells 'present an imminent danger.'"
NBC's Pete Williams reports: The federal judge who temporarily blocked the government's moratorium on deepwater drilling Tuesday is harshly critical of the Obama administration in his 22-page legal opinion, both on how the halt to drilling was conceived and on what effect it would have in Gulf states. The flavor of Judge Martin Feldman's order is captured in a single footnote. It quotes from an Interior Department report, which said the BP oil disaster was "commanding the Department of Interior's resources." He adds, "A disturbing admission by this Administration."
Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the administration would unveil a new -- and perhaps more targeted -- moratorium. "We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP's well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling," he said in a statement. "That evidence mounts as BP continues to be unable to stop its blowout, notwithstanding the huge efforts and help from the federal scientific team and most major oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The evidence also continues to mount that industry needs to raise the bar on blowout prevention, containment, and response planning before deepwater drilling should continue."
Salazar concluded: "Based on this ever-growing evidence, I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities.