Breaking: Federal Judge Blocks Obama Admin Drilling Moratorium (A Win For Brave NAE Experts?)

Via the Associated Press (link may be dynamic and subject to change): 

A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.

The White House says President Barack Obama's administration will appeal.

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.

This later paragraph from AP's breaking news report explains why I believe Ken Salazar's dissenting experts from the National Academy of Engineering may have influenced the judge's outlook on the case:

Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.

Feldman's take seems to mirror the language of the dissenting experts.

Investors Business Daily editorialized on Salazar's moratorium imposition travesty on June 10:

Experts brought together by the Obama administration to review offshore drilling safety were asked to review recommendations in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They did not give their blessing to the six-month drilling moratorium announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and have accused him of deliberately appending their report to make it seem like they did.

According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Salazar's May 27 report to the president said the seven experts "peer reviewed" his recommendations, including a six-month ban on drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. The experts say the report they reviewed suggested stopping only new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet.

The reviewers for Salazar's report were provided by the National Academy of Engineering. Their joint letter says that while they agreed with the report's various safety recommendations, "we do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling. A moratorium was added after the final review and was never agreed to by the contributors."

One panelist, Bob Bea of the University of California, Berkeley, said in an e-mail: "Moratorium was not a part of the ... report we consulted-advised-reviewed." The academy's Ken Arnold was less subtle, saying: "The secretary should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct, but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions."

The panelists simply oppose the announced moratorium. "A blanket moratorium is not the answer," the letter says. "It will not measurably reduce risk further, and it will have a lasting impact on the nation's economy, which may be greater than that of the oil spill. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do."

Neither do we, and frankly we're tired of the deliberate manipulation of facts and truth in the name of protecting the environment ...

Even the Associated Press finally broke down and covered the dissenters' outcries yesterday, while still somewhat concealing the full scope of their objections:

The scientists, who had consulted with Salazar on a May 27 report on drilling safety, said the Interior Department falsely implied that they had agreed to a "blanket moratorium" that they actually opposed. The scientists said the drilling moratorium went too far and warned that it may have a lasting impact on the nation's economy.

A spokeswoman for Salazar said the May 27 report was not intended to imply that all experts from the National Academy of Engineering had agreed to the moratorium.

"By listing the members of the NAE that peer-reviewed the 22 safety recommendations contained in the report, we didn't mean to imply that they also agreed with the moratorium on deep-water drilling," said spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.

Sure, Kendra.

Though it's only one step, it may very well be that thanks to the stink raised by the NAE experts and outlets like the Wall Street Journal, IBD, and many center-right blogs, the nation might start getting the energy sector of its economy back in gear.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.