BP's Oil Spills Into Court of Appeals

Earthjustice asks court to reinstate moratorium on offshore drilling

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While oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s blown-out well, a six-month offshore drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration is being argued in the courts.

Last week, oil industry groups got a New Orleans judge to issue an order blocking the moratorium. The administration is appealing that decision—assisted by the intervention of Earthjustice—at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earthjustice and a number of conservation groups, had unsuccessfully argued alongside the Obama administration that the moratorium was appropriate in order to identify and fix problems that created the current oil spill.

Now, the state of Louisiana has jumped into the action at the appeals court to oppose the moratorium, never mind many of their finest wetlands are covered in oil and their fishermen and visitor industry workers are left high and dry.

The appeals court isn’t scheduled to hear the case for weeks so the administration and conservation groups are seeking an emergency stay of the lower court’s ruling to get the moratorium back in place now. They are also arguing that with all the ships and other resources hard at work trying to stop and clean up the leak, if another well were to blow anytime soon, the country wouldn’t have the resources needed to address the problem.

The moratorium only blocks 33 new exploratory drilling plans, leaving thousands of other offshore oil wells to continue pumping oil.

John was Earthjustice’s Media Director and chief press wrangler from 2001 until 2013. He came to Earthjustice in 2001 to defend freshwaters and public land—and salmon.