As you know, Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman on Tuesday issued an injunction prohibiting the government from enforcing its broad six month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. But, the saga goes on.
Later that day, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, in testimony before Congress, advised that he would soon be issuing a new, and better version of the moratorium. So, Hornbeck Offshore Services (the “lead” plaintiff in the case before Judge Feldman) went back before Judge Feldman to seek an order telling the government that, Salazar’s remarks notwithstanding, the moratorium has been lifted, and drilling may commence. Meanwhile, the government filed a motion before Judge Feldman asking that the moratorium be left in place while the government appeals Feldman’s Order.
Today, Judge Feldman denied the government’s request, and thus, there is no more moratorium.
The part that caught my attention, however, was a piece of the government’s argument explaining why the moratorium should stay in place.
Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, in addition to appealing the court’s decision, “will undertake a process to issue a new suspension decision,” the U.S. said in court papers filed with the request for a stay. This would reflect “information learned since the original decision” and provide “further explanation of the need for a pause in deepwater drilling operations,” according to the filing.
What could the government possibly have learned between Tuesday and today? And, if the word “decision” in the above quote refers to the original decision to impose the moratorium, why didn’t the government bring that important “information” to the court’s attention before Tuesday’s ruling?
It’s not nice to “fool” with a Federal District Court Judge. As an Assistant United States Attorney, had I done what what Secretary Salazar did, I would be posting this from a jail cell.