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Federal Court’s Summary Judgment Compels Obama Administration to Act on Deepwater Drilling Permits (…Again)

May 10, 2011 (Note: the following was issued as a statement to the media.)

A federal judge today ruled that the Obama administration has “unlawfully and improperly delayed” permit applications for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Obama administration to act within 30 days on permits that it has been dragging its feet on.

“Although the government has begun to issue some permit applications, plainly because of this lawsuit, the future of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico remains elusive; plaintiffs’ other long-pending permit applications speak loudly to this,” Judge Feldman wrote in his ruling. “Moreover, the government’s conduct of delay in deepwater drilling in the Gulf dramatically presents far more than the mere possibility of persistent and repetitious intentional delays in processing . . . permit applications.”

The judge added: “The government has presented no credible assurances that the permitting process will return to one marked by predictability and certainty. Processing a scant few applications is at best a tactical ploy in a real world setting.”
We could not have said it better. For months, the Obama administration has aggressively dug in its heels to maintain its de facto moratorium on oil drilling. We’ve only seen the administration move — reluctantly — when shoved.

Fortunately, there are some leaders willing to give the administration a firm push. Today, the House is voting on H.R. 1229, which would require the Interior Secretary to decide on a drilling permit within 30 days of receiving an application.
Clearly, a lot of folks think the Obama administration needs a kick in the pants — whether in the form of a court order or an act of Congress — to do its job.

Americans don’t expect government to solve our problems. But we do hope our government won’t be the cause of our problems. Right now, the Obama administration is not only causing problems — unemployment, higher gas prices, more dependence on foreign oil — but it’s standing in the way of a solution.

It’s time that Gulf workers got back to work exploring for domestic oil. Americans want it, Congressional leaders are demanding it, and a federal judge has ordered it. What more does the Obama administration need to do its job?

Jim Adams

Jim Adams
President and CEO, Offshore Marine Service Association


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