U.S., Industry File Motions to Uphold, Dismiss Deep-Water Drilling Ban

The U.S. judge who scrapped the federal government’s first deep-water oil drilling moratorium following the Gulf of Mexico spill was urged to throw out the second by industry opponents who claim they’re almost identical.

Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. claims Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar didn’t sufficiently re-analyze or consider new evidence in issuing a second ban July 12, as required by law, according to a filing today in federal court in New Orleans.

Salazar insisted he followed the law in issuing the second moratorium. He claims legal challenges to the first ban are irrelevant, because he withdrew it after U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said it was too broad and voided it.

Hornbeck attorney Carl D. Rosenblum argued in filings today that both of Salazar’s drilling bans were improper, saying the second is a “carbon copy” of the first.

“Interior acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and exceeded its authority in purporting to ‘reconsider’ the May 28th moratorium without authorization from the court,” Rosenblum wrote, adding that the scope of the later ban is “essentially identical.”

Government lawyers countered that Salazar weighed new evidence before issuing the July 12 drilling ban and directed the judge’s attention to a 28,063-page government Administrative Record filed in the case last week.

“The Secretary conducted significant additional fact finding and analysis relevant to the various conclusions presented in the July directive,” they wrote.

Salazar’s lawyers said an indexed CD-ROM of the vast Interior filing will be submitted in court tomorrow.

To contact the reporters on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com; Allen Johnson in New Orleans at allenmct@gmail.com.

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