Jindal scores legal victory over Obama on drilling
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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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