New Gulf Moratorium Amid Problems with Relief Efforts

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A ship passes through oil covered water near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on June 19, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (Charlie Neibergall/Getty)

The Obama administration has promised to issue a new moratorium after a federal judge in Louisiana overthrew the second government-issued six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard says BP has been forced to remove a cap that was containing some of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after an underwater robot bumped into the venting system. That sent gas rising through vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the cap, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said on Wednesday.

Giving an update on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Allan said the cap was removed earlier in the day and that crews are checking to see if crystals have formed before putting it back on. A different system is stilling burning oil on the surface. The Associated Press reports that by Wednesday night, the cap was back in place.

Allan also said two people helping with the Gulf response died Wednesday in separate incidents - one, in a swimming accident, and the other during an incident on the Vessel of Opportunity, which is under investigation.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he will issue a new order imposing a moratorium that eliminates any doubt about whether it is needed and appropriate. The White House has also promised to appeal Louisiana Judge Martin Feldman's decision to overturn the ban on deepwater drilling on Tuesday. Feldman has said the government simply assumed that because one rig exploded, the others pose an imminent danger as well.

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.

The AP reports U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has investments in the oil and gas industry, according to financial disclosure reports. Feldman, a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in 2008 in Transocean Ltd., the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. His 2008 financial disclosure report--the most recent available--showed investments in more than a half-dozen other energy-related companies including Halliburton, which was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project.

Feldman did not respond to requests by the Associated Press for comment and to clarify whether he still holds some or all of these investments.

Meanwhile, BP PLC said Wednesday that managing director Bob Dudley will head the new Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, which is in charge of cleaning up the oil spill. Dudley won't say if the oil giant will resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf, where it's the largest oil and gas producer. Dudley says the company will "step back" from the issue while investigating the April 20 explosion. Dudley told the CBS "Early Show" he has completed taking over the disaster response and cleanup from CEO Tony Hayward. Hayward repeatedly sparked criticism from the Gulf to the U.S. Capitol for what many consider missteps and insensitive comments.

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Comments [1]

charles danna

i guess "conflict of interests" does not apply to district judges.

Jun. 23 2010 03:08 PM

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