I guess when Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Obama Administration to lift the drilling moratorium, he really meant it.
A federal judge Wednesday blasted the Obama administration for “determined disregard” of his order to lift a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling last year, giving fresh ammunition to the oil industry and its allies on Capitol Hill who want the Interior Department to speed approvals of new offshore drilling projects.
The ruling by Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana means the Interior Department could have to reimburse Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC, a Louisiana drilling company, for the costs of litigation that the firm brought last year challenging the legality of the drilling moratorium.
The drilling halt was first ordered last May after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, in which 11 workers died, and the resulting oil spill. Judge Feldman struck down the initial ban in June, and the Interior Department quickly ordered a second one.
In his ruling, Judge Feldman said Hornbeck was owed the money because the government’s conduct amounted to contempt of court.
A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to comment late Wednesday. In a written statement, Hornbeck’s general counsel, Sam Giberga, said “What is striking about today’s ruling is that it holds the government, acting through its highest levels, in contempt of a federal court order.”
This is exactly what the founders considered “checks and balances” in the federal government. In this case, we have the judicial branch riding herd on the executive branch.
Of course, the Obama Administration could–and probably will–ignore the ruling, but that will carry a heavy political price, as it will increase the perception that they’re out of control and don’t care about the rule of law.