Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Louisiana company sues Dept of Interior over deepwater moratorium

Hornbeck Offshore Services has filed a lawsuit against the Dept of Interior over the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hornbeck Offshore Services operates a fleet of service vessels that  haul men, materials and equipment to offshore drilling rigs including some of the 33 deepwater rigs idled by the moratorium. The company filed its complaint in US Federal Court in New Orleans.

Late last week, we learned that the impact of the moratorium would likely affect thousands of jobs and cost hundreds of millions in lost revenue, and that the effects of a "temporary" halt to drilling would have lasting and dire consequences.

The moratorium is typical, knee-jerk reactionary management.  It clearly indicates that the Obama regime does not think through the consequences of its actions. Immediately following its realization that the Deepwater Horizon spill was going to be a major environmental event, Obama ordered Ken Salazar to complete an inspection of all 33 deepwater rigs in the Gulf.  That inspection was completed and a report published May 12:


[The President] Ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The inspections of deepwater drilling rigs found Incidents of Non-Compliance (INC) on two rigs. Those violations were corrected and no other violations were found. To view the inspection report, click here. Inspections of deepwater production platforms is ongoing.


Hornbeck's complaint claims that Salazar recommended the six-month moratorium to President Barack Obama without any legal justification. It's hard to argue with Hornbeck here. Interior inspected the rigs, declared the problems found to be minor, and essentially declared them safe. So issuance of the moratorium appears arbitrary, if not capricious. I have no legal training whatsoever, but it sounds like Hornbeck stands a good chance of having its request for an injunction granted.

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