US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is lining up a legal team to fight for his six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as the US faces one of the worst environmental disasters in history.
On Tuesday, US district judge Martin Feldman overturned Obama’s moratorium on drilling deeper than 500 feet in the Gulf after a raft of drillers petitioned the move.
Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, said that he would seek a new court order explaining why the ban was essential in the first place.
“We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP’s well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling,” said Salazar.
Salazar’s pledge came as it emerged that Feldman has extensive investments in the oil and gas industry, according to financial disclosure reports.
Feldman reported holding nearly 15,000 dollars in shares in Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig responsible for the BP oil spill disaster.
Judge Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure report – the most recent available – also showed investments in Ocean Energy, Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Halliburton was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project.Obama issued the ban on deepwater drilling in May, one month after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, affecting more than 30 oil rigs in the region.