Friday, July 09, 2010

5th Circuit: No Lifting of Moratorium Stay Necessary if They Don’t Drill Anyway

In a curious leap of logic, the 5th District Court of Appeals in New Orleans refused to lift a stay on a deepwater drilling moratorium because, as they reasoned, there wasn’t going to be renewed deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the foreseeable future anyway. These are two of the 3-judge panel findings:

  1. The motion for stay pending appeal is denied because the Secretary has failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury if the stay is not granted; he has made no showing that there is any likelihood that drilling activities will be resumed pending appeal.

  2. The Secretary has the right to apply for emergency relief if he can show that drilling activity by deepwater rigs has commenced or is about to commence. Any renewed motion for stay will be evaluated on existing circumstances.
Get that? They didn’t rule on the merits of whether the oil industry can prevent future deepwater blowouts or whether they are equipped to handle another one should it occur. Neither did they rule on the merits of a having oil service companies idled with resulting layoffs if the moratorium has its effect.

The ruling was solely based on the fact that the Interior Secretary could not show that in not lifting the stay it would result in renewed drilling in the deepwater. Indeed, if renewed drilling should occur, according to point 2, they will revisit this.

Meanwhile, two Republican congressmen, Pete Olson and Kevin Brady, lauded the decision as a blow for the working man.

From the Chron:

“‘It's the hard working men and women of the Gulf Coast not the federal government that will suffer “irreparable injury” if this ban persists,’ [Brady] said.”
Olson, on the other hand, was watching the rig count.

“Olson said the administration should ‘take this latest ruling to heart’ and not attempt to reinstate the ‘arbitrary and unnecessary’ moratorium. Diamond Offshore's decision on Friday to move one of its rigs to Egyptian waters is just the first of many, Olson said.”
Now, correct me if I’m wrong. The justices refused to lift the stay because they didn’t think that there was going to be any renewed drilling in the deepwater anyway, whether or not there was a moratorium. As a matter of fact, if someone did decide to spud a well in the deepwater, the Secretary of the Interior would have standing in a claim that drilling would cause irreparable harm. Something he can’t claim now because there is no drilling.

And this helps the working man how? This keeps parts and supplies moving from the factory floor to the deepwater offshore how? This keeps deepwater certified drill ships from up anchoring and moving to Brazil or Angola how?

Near as I can tell, this is a lose-lose-lose situation. Commerce is lost, jobs are lost, and rigs are lost anyway, whether there is a moratorium or not.

Congressmen Brady and Olson have nothing to celebrate.

Nothing to celebrate except for the political hay they hope to make as they obfuscate the truth in the press – a specialty of theirs.

1 comment:

bob said...

I'm sure the Gulf's working fishermen and shrimpers appreciate Pete & Kevin's excellent support.