By October 21, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Drilling ruling is called moot U.S. agency claims superseding policy

As far as the Obama administration is concerned, a federal judge’s ruling this week striking down new safety measures for offshore oil and gas drilling has no impact because it finds fault with the implementation of a policy that no longer applies.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans ruled Tuesday that a batch of 10 new emergency safety rules for drilling operations that were imposed June 8 by the Interior Department, known as Notice to Lessees 2010-N05, or NTL-05, did not go through a proper public process.

“Notice and comment were required by law,” Feldman wrote. “The government did not comply and the NTL-05 is of no lawful force or effect.”

But nobody is disputing that NTL-05 is in effect. An Interior Department document says a Sept. 30 “interim final rule” superseded NTL-05.

NTL-05 had a clear impact on shallow-water drilling operations during most of the seven-month ban on deepwater drilling, and smaller operators said it was artificially holding up their permits.

But now the federal government appears ready to impose the same rules from NTL-05 on future drilling by using the interim final rule, regardless of what Feldman does.

The judge’s latest ruling was made in the course of a lawsuit by London-based Ensco Plc against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In July, Feldman said Salazar’s deepwater drilling moratorium was arbitrary and capricious, so the Interior secretary rewrote the ban. On Oct. 13, after Salazar ended the drilling suspension early, the Justice Department contended the whole Ensco lawsuit was moot.

Feldman is scheduled to consider that question next month.

Posted in: Daily News

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The Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (known before 2006 as LIOGA) was organized in 1992 to represent the Independent and service sectors of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana; this representation includes exploration, production and oilfield services. Our primary goal is to provide our industry with a working environment that will enhance the industry. LOGA services its membership by creating incentives for Louisiana’s oil & gas industry, warding off tax increases, changing existing burdensome regulations, and educating the public and government of the importance of the oil and gas industry in the state of Louisiana.

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