Federal District Judge Martin Feldman today gave President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar 30 days to act on five applications seeking permits to drill in the Gulf of Mexico submitted months ago by a Louisiana firm.
In issuing the directive to the government, Feldman, who sits on the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisian, noted that “it is undisputed that before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, permits were processed, on average, in two weeks’ time. In stark contrast, the five permits at issue have been pending from four to some nine months.”
The permits were sought by Ensco Offshore, which is based in Broussard, LA. Virtually no new drilling has occurred in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, despite the fact the U.S. depends upon drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico for roughly a third of its oil and natural gas.
When that third isn’t produced, it has to be replaced and that means more OPEC oil being imported by the U.S. and more of our dollars going to the international cartel. Unfortunately, Feldman doesn’t seem optimistic that things are going to improve any time soon:
“It is also undisputed that these delays have put off indefinitely drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Ensco has incurred significantly reduced standby rates on its rigs and has been forced to move some of its rigs to other locations around the world. It is unclear when Gulf drilling will resume. The government’s assurances have been inconsistent.”
Feldman had strong words for Obama and Salazar, noting that “the government is under a duty to act by either granting or denying a permit application within a reasonable time. Not acting at all is not a lawful option.”