[Guest post by DRJ]
UPDATED AND BUMPED TO TOP: After a 2-hour hearing, Judge Feldman announced he would rule by Wednesday.
UPDATE 2: The Houston Chronicle reports Judge Feldman indicated he may rule as early as tomorrow. In addition, a similar challenge was filed by Diamond Offshore in Houston last Friday. In addition to the administrative law claims, however, Diamond also claims the moratorium violates the constitutional protection against the federal government taking private property without due process of law or just compensation.
The Houston Chronicle reports a New Orleans federal judge will hear arguments Monday in a case seeking to lift President Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling. Last week, the Louisiana Record reported Judge Martin Feldman denied the government’s request for a delay in the hearing. The Record’s report provided more details on the Plaintiffs’ claims, including that tomorrow’s hearing is an injunction hearing.
The plaintiff has the burden in a preliminary injunction case in federal court but if there is a justiciable claim, the court may decide to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held. Here, preserving the positions of the parties could support enjoining the moratorium.
As for the case itself, the government’s position is that a 6-month moratorium is needed for safety reasons, while Plaintiffs argue there is no basis for the ban because post-spill inspections revealed at most minor safety violations on the remaining Gulf rigs. Plaintiffs’ claim is based primarily on administrative law.
The government may have a problem proving that a blanket 6-month moratorium is reasonable if the Court decides the proper test is to balance one BP blow-out vs decades of safe offshore drilling.