Government seeks delay in moratorium ruling

June 24, 2010 7:00:34 AM PDT
The Obama administration on Wednesday night asked a judge to delay a court ruling that overturned a moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf.

In court papers filed with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the Justice Department said that it is seeking the delay while appealing the decision of U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.

The Justice Department says a delay would serve the public interest by eliminating the risk of another drilling accident while new safety equipment standards and procedures are considered.

The Interior Department imposed the moratorium last month in the wake of the BP disaster, halting approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspending drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

On Tuesday, Feldman overturned it, saying the government simply assumed that because one deep-water rig exploded, the others pose an imminent danger, too.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's determination that a threat exists has firm support from a variety of sources, the Justice Department argued in seeking the delay.

"The existence of such a threat is not seriously contested" by any expert cited by the companies seeking to overturn the moratorium or by the state of Louisiana, the court filing stated.

"To the contrary, the state of Louisiana concedes that additional safety measures are necessary, and disputes only the length of time needed to implement them," the department added.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV-06-23-10 2111CDT

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