The Offshore Marine Service Association praised a federal judge's ruling ordering the U.S. Interior Department to take action on permit applications for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ruling came just two weeks after the same judge held the Interior Department in contempt of court for holding up deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf.
"It's deja vu all over again: A federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to follow the rule of law, do its job and start acting on applications for drilling permits in the Gulf," said Jim Adams, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA).
"For nearly a year, the Obama administration has not approved a single deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf," Adams said. "This de facto moratorium on oil exploration is unreasonable, unwarranted, unfair and unlawful. It's a self-inflicted energy crisis for America—killing jobs, raising gas prices, and making us more dependent on foreign oil."
Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to act on five pending permit applications within 30 days and report its compliance to the court.
"As the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster draws near, any reason that would have justified delays has, under a rule of reason, expired," Judge Feldman wrote. "Beginning to process permit applications will restore normalcy to the Gulf region and repair the public's faith in the administrative process."
On Feb. 2, Judge Feldman ruled that the Interior Department disregarded his earlier injunction against the administration's drilling moratorium. In June, Feldman had struck down the moratorium that the administration had imposed.
Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar responded by instituting a second moratorium that was nearly identical to the one the judge had thrown out.
"President Obama's de facto moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil exploration is a job killer that threatens our energy security and our national security," Adams said. "If President Obama truly cared about jobs and economic growth, he would follow the judge's order and lift his de facto moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."
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