The Moment

1 minute read
Jeffrey Kluger

The Gulf of Mexico is not the only place blowout preventers fail. The same thing can happen–after a fashion–in the courts that are supposed to provide their own protection to the region. Such a rupture occurred on June 22, when Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans blocked the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Obama following the BP oil-rig explosion. Obama’s order was a narrow one, affecting just 33 deepwater sites and leaving 3,600 other Gulf platforms alone. That did not matter to Feldman. “If some drilling-equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say that all are?” he asked in his opinion. Critics quickly pointed out that the judge had been a stockholder in Transocean, the owner of the BP rig, as recently as 2008. The White House is appealing the ruling, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will impose a new moratorium within days. Meanwhile, the cap on the broken wellhead a mile deep in the Gulf had to be temporarily removed after a submersible collided with it. More than two months into the crisis, the oil was gushing free again.

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