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A federal judge struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico today. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans ruled that the government rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger too. The Interior Department had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf. President Obama believes drilling at such depths does not make sense and puts the safety of workers "at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford."

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs filed the lawsuit. They argued the moratorium was arbitrarily imposed after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and blew out the well 5,000 feet underwater. It has spewed anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Feldman sided with the companies, saying in his ruling the Interior Department assumed that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.

The Center agrees with the ruling. (Wash Post, 6/22/2010)