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Regulatory: Obama Administration Repeals the Offshore Drilling Moratorium

On October 12th, the Obama Administration rescinded its controversial moratorium on deepwater drilling. Driven by public opinion and litigation reverses, the Secretary of the Interior replaced that blanket prohibition with a new regulatory regime, which establishes more stringent safety requirements to govern future drilling of offshore oil and gas wells in response to the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

On June 22nd, the Administration's original deepwater moratorium was invalidated by a federal court in New Orleans, and the Fifth Circuit quickly denied the government's appeal. (The author represented the successful plaintiffs). On July 12th, the Secretary cancelled the first moratorium and issued a second moratorium that was a mirror image of the first, but contained an extensive, after-the-fact justification for the original action. The government also moved to dismiss the pending court case as moot, arguing that the plaintiffs must abandon the lawsuit in which they had gained relief and file a new action to challenge the carbon copy moratorium.

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John Cooney

John F. Cooney is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Venable.

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