Texas Files Challenge to Obama's Offshore Drilling Ban

(Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 12, 2010

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Wednesday filed a legal challenge to the Obama administration's six-month deep-water-drilling moratorium, saying the federal government violated a law that requires consultation of affected states before imposing the ban.

"Under federal law, affected states are guaranteed the right to participate in offshore drilling-related policy decisions, but the Obama administration did not bother to communicate, coordinate or cooperate with Texas," Mr Abbott said.

He contended the decision failed to consider the economic consequences of the ban, which he said will cost the Texas economy "millions of dollars."

Wednesday's legal challenge targets the administration's second offshore drilling moratorium. The first, which was also imposed without consultation with Texas, was retracted by the federal government after several private companies successfully sued in federal district court. The Interior Secretary later withdrew the initial moratorium and imposed a second offshore-drilling ban last month, which halts all drilling operations in water depths of greater than 500 feet.

Filed on behalf of Texas, the legal action names the U.S. Department of Interior and its secretary, Kenneth Salazar; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and its director, Michael Bromwich, as defendants.

An Interior Department spokeswoman said the temporary pause on deepwater drilling that Mr. Salazar put in place is "simply common sense."

"The Deepwater Horizon/BP oil disaster has made it clear that we need better health, safety, and environmental standards for drilling operations, and we need better capabilities to control wild wells in deep water," the spokeswoman said. "In addition, we need to make sure that we have adequate spill-response capabilities--and virtually all of the available assets are already deployed in response to the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill."

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