Home / Culture and Society / Judge’s Decision on Oil Moratorium Makes Cents

Judge’s Decision on Oil Moratorium Makes Cents

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The federal judge who recently blocked the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling obviously decided that in the end, cents overruled sense.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman declared that the government "rashly concluded" that all rigs could put us and the environment into immediate danger, just because one oil rig failed.

"What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us in a universal threat of irreparable harm," Feldman wrote.

The failure rate by oil rigs — be them deepwater or shallow water — is most likely a very tiny percentage of the overall number in operation. I'm sure Feldman accurately calculated exactly what that diminutive percentage is and it became a vital factoid in his decision to rule against the moratorium.

But while his math skills are most likely very sound and he correctly came up with the low number, the failure lies in how the judge interpreted the datum and then used it to state his decision. It does not matter that it's one oil rig failure out of 10,000 or one out of a million — it's that it happened at all.

And we can't stop it. Sixty seven million to 127 million gallons of crude oil have spewed out of the broken pipe at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Just in his decision-making process alone, thousands more spilled into the water. It's an outrageous number that continues to grow.

Since this entire toxic, greasy mess is a deadly threat to all the flora and fauna of the region — a region that now stretches from Texas to Florida and beyond – that makes it ONE oil rig failure too many.

Which is exactly why the Obama administration enacted the deepwater moratorium in the first place. Not only to make sure this doesn't happen again, but in the unfortunate case it does – so we know how to stop it. Because, in a nut shell – we don't.

As sad and ridiculous as it sounds – we have no clue how to put an end to this tragic ecological disaster. Despite all the technological advancements during the modern era, we still have no clue how to stop a deep water oil leak.

The ruling by the federal judge focuses on the "rash" decision by the White House to temporarily ban all deep water oil drilling simply because one oil rig failed. It fails to address the other end of the issue spectrum, which is our lack of preparation and prevention.

Is it really an over-reaction by our leaders to simply step back and analyze a horrific situation to make sure it not only doesn't happen again, but we are ready when it does? Isn't that exactly what they teach us when it comes to handling a biological attack or a natural disaster like an earthquake?

If anything, the actual ruling is far more "rash" than the common sense approach by the Obama administration. We humans are very eager and anxious to always keep moving forward. We forget that at times it is just as important to step back, learn from our mistakes, then proceed sanely down the right path into the future.

That is exactly why this ruling may make a whole lot of immediate cents for those in the oil industry, but it makes no sense when it comes to our future.

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About BizarroGuy

  • Ed

    The judge ruled correctly. You do not hold a whole industry and related businesses captive due to the errors of one company. The amount of jobs lost to a 6 month (likely much longer in reality) moratorium would amount to tens or even hundreds of thousands. The economy CANNOT handle that at this point. BP’s safty record over the last decade leaves something to be desired. The other oil companies however have EXCELLENT safety records. Exxon having only a single, that’s ONE violation since 2000 (I think). Compare that to BP, whose had a few HUNDRED! Why on earth should Exxon and it’s workers and all the business and workers that related keeping the oil rigs going be punished for their exemplary safety record? That’s like the government putting in place a moratorium on ALL car manufacturing while they investigate Toyota. The judge applied common SENSE and his ruling is to be commended.

  • Not just the oil industry was being held captive, but so were the thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who do business in the region. Leftists ought to love the decision. It was the “greatest good for the greatest number.”


  • John Wilson

    Obama negotiated a $100million compensation fund from BP to pay lost income to oil workers idled by the moratorium.

    After that you have to weigh the value of Gulf fishing and resort businesses losses against losses to oil companies and workers. Oil companies are about 60% foreign owned, so if you compare American losses against American losses it makes a poor picture for the oil companies.

    But then, oil company owners like Judge Feldman, care not for USA businesses but rather for the international globalized oil businesses.

  • As I said on another thread, the moratorium affects only 33 current wells, not ‘a whole industry.’ The propensity of know-nothings to exaggerate for rhetorical effect is apparently as uncapped as the Deepwater Horizon leak.

  • “Leftists ought to love the decision. It was the “greatest good for the greatest number.”

    Interesting you view the Left as utilitarian.

  • Gosh Darn! I keep repeating myself. Here is a copy of the judge’s decision. It’s only twenty-two pages long, double spaced, and reading it might, just might, assist the discussion.

    But then, perhaps not.


  • I’m enjoying watching the teabaggers react to this news today and bend themselves into contortions to advocate for a federal judge who made a decision they agree with. Activist judges who rule against segregation are overreaching. Activist judges who rule in favor of feckless industries killing off entire smaller industries with their incompetence, well, that’s good for we the people.

    Ohh, the large crocodile tears currently being wept by the libberty-luvrz for the poor oil industry, ruthlessly oppressed by the satanic evil liberal fascism dachau lenin stalin obamacare hitler gubbment.

    Would someone please notify me when the Million Constitutionbagger March happens for poor BP? Thanks. I’m guessing it will be after Glenn Beck’s 8-28 912er Elizabeth Dilling Ward Connerly KKK Civil Rights Initiative nightride, at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • Baronius

    Judicial activism desribes the situation when a judge reaches beyond his Constitutional authority, to act as a legislator or executive. I don’t know the legal history of the bills that Feldman cited, but if he’s being candid about them then they give him exactly the authority he exercised.

  • John Wilson

    Thanks Dan(Miller), I read the brief quickly and will return to it later.

    Feldman makes some good points: the admin arguments were poor and application over-broad.

    I take it in good faith when Feldman says: “This Court is persuaded that the public interest weighs in favor of granting a preliminary injunction.”

    I look forward to the next round, if any.

  • Dan

    Wow! I just read the judges decision. (thanks Dan Miller) It’s hard to see how any judge anywhere could have found differently. Can Obama’s people be this incompetent? They misrepresent what their own assembled team of experts advised.

    I agree with the judge, it appears to be an agenda driven, arbitrary, and economically harmful moratorium.

    The dishonesty of it though, appears criminal.

  • Dan

    From News Busters:

    “In reality, the seven-member panel, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, said Salazar’s proposed moratorium would be “punishing the innocent.” The policy “will not measurably reduce risk further,” the panel explained, “and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.”

    Despite the panel’s clear opposition to the policy, Salazar implied that they supported the moratorium. Salazar was forced to apologize after the panel publicly rebuked the Secretary’s implications. “The Secretary should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct,” said one member of the panel, “but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions.”

    So the panel of experts chosen by the administration actually thought Obamas moratorium might actually have a “lasting” economic impact greater than the oil spill.

    Why isn’t this dishonesty criminal? The most galling thing though is that Obama isn’t giving up. Salazar is preparing an appeal.

  • Upside Down Moments in RWNJ Thought #107: A federal judge that give a pass to industry incompetence is good. Federal-anything that strikes down special rights for bigots is overreach.

    The boss is nice, and pays a fair wage, too.

  • John Wilson

    It’s politics, Dan. Thus, prone to exaggeration, just like your statements, such as “I agree with the judge, it appears to be an agenda driven, arbitrary, and economically harmful moratorium.”, which is not what the judge said.

  • Baronius

    John, this is what the judge said:

    “While a suspension of activities directed after a rational interpretation of the evidence could outweigh the impact on the plaintiffs and the public, here, the Court has found the plaintiffs would likely succeed in showing that the agency’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. 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.”

    He doesn’t say agenda-driven exactly, but he does say arbitrary and economically harmful. Where’s Dan’s exaggeration?

  • John Wilson

    Dan said:

    “I agree with the judge, it appears to be an agenda driven, arbitrary, and economically harmful moratorium.”

    Thus clearly implying those words and thoughts on the part of the judge.

    It’s sleazy.

  • In case anyone is interested, here are some illuminating remarks by a judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year on the obligations of federal agencies to adhere to federal statutes. Among other things, he noted,

    “[I]n both Republican and Democratic administrations, I have too often seen agencies failing to display the kind of careful and lawyerly attention one would expect from those required to obey federal statutes and to follow principles of administrative law. In such cases, it looks for all the world like agencies choose their policy first and then later seek to defend its legality. This gets it entirely backwards. It’s backwards because it effectively severs the tie between federal law and administrative policy, thus undermining important democratic and constitutional values. And it’s backwards because whether or not agencies value neutral principles of administrative law, courts do, and they will strike down agency action that violates those principles — whatever the president’s party, however popular the administration, and no matter how advisable the initiative.”

    The Administrative Procedure Act has been around for a very long time, and is not difficult to follow; unless an agenda gets in the way and overwhelms it. That happened in the case at issue.


  • Baronius

    John, come on. Look at that quote I posted. The judge calls the moratorium arbitrary, and describes the economic harm it would cause. Elsewhere in the ruling he suggests that there are agendas at play. What part of Dan’s statement is a misrepresentation?

    I get that you don’t like the ruling, or Dan’s support of it. But that doesn’t make Dan’s reading of it sleazy or exaggerated. I don’t recall if you’ve ever given your political opponents credit for something, but now would be a good time to show your objectivity.

  • John Wilson

    I haven’t decided about the judges ruling. I haven’t decided about the moratorium. I thought your comment was misleading.

  • Ed

    The judge clearly implies that the government has an agenda. If John can’t deceiver this, it’s his comprehension skills that are lacking. Dan did nothing sleazy.