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Jindal scores legal victory over Obama on drilling

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 - 17:54

Washington: Louisiana`s Indian-American
Governor Bobby Jindal has scored a legal victory over
President Barack Obama when a federal judge in New Orleans
issued an injunction on the six-month moratorium on deepwater
drilling imposed by the White House.

The drilling moratorium declared on May 6 was to last
only through the month. But Obama announced May 27 that he was
extending it for six months, a move criticised by Jindal.
Welcoming the court ruling, Jindal, who threw his weight
behind the legal challenge, said that a ban on drilling
threatens thousands of jobs in his state and hurts other
businesses that supply oil-and-gas companies.

"We absolutely agree with the judge`s conclusion that
the administration`s six-month, or longer, shutdown of
deepwater drilling was `arbitrary and capricious,`" the 39-
year-old charismatic Republican leader said.

The energy sector is a main economic engine for
Louisiana, the home of the US offshore oil and gas industry.

The Obama administration`s temporary ban on deepwater
offshore drilling was prompted by the giant oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico caused by an explosion in a BP oil rig. The
resultant oil spill, considered to be one of the biggest in US
history, has caused massive environmental havoc in states
including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

US Government estimates indicate as much as 60,000
barrels of oil may be flowing into the Gulf every day since
the April 20 spill.
"We absolutely do not want another spill or one more
drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of
Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the
federal government can`t adequately do their job of ensuring
drilling is done safely," Jindal was quoted as saying.

Jindal also criticised the Obama administration for a
"clear lack of urgency" in setting up a commission to study
deepwater drilling.

He estimated the state could lose more than 20,000
existing and potential new jobs in the next 12 to 18 months if
the federal panel takes longer than six months to write its
reports, the Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.

In his ruling, US District Judge Martin Feldman in
New Orleans wrote that, "an invalid agency decision to suspend
drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot
justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local
economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect
of the availability of domestic energy in this country."

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has said that it
would contest the ruling of the court in New Orleans.

"The president strongly believes, as the Department of
Interior and Department of Justice argued yesterday, that
continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what
happened does not make any sense," White House spokesman
Robert Gibbs said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also said he would
issue a new moratorium quickly.


First Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 - 17:54
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