A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deep water drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill. The White House says the administration will appeal.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
Obama had halted the approval of any new permits for deep water drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deep water drilling pose an imminent danger.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour praised the judge's decision. He says the
moratorium was a bad policy that could hurt the national economy.
Barbour says he hopes the judge's ruling will take effect quickly and be upheld on appeal. The governor said earlier this month that stopping deep water drilling for six months could prompt some oil companies to move their equipment to other countries.