In a blow to President Obama's handling of the BP oil spill, a Louisiana judge on Tuesday blocked President Obama's six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling. Judge Martin Feldman said the Obama administration had failed to justify such "a blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium." The White House is appealing the decision, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to issue a new moratorium spelling out why safety concerns make the ban necessary despite the economic costs of shutting down drilling rigs. Is this ruling just a temporary setback for Obama, or will it help Republicans paint him as ineffective and uninterested in helping the people of the Gulf Coast? (Watch a CBS report about the judge's decision)
Obama now looks like the bad guy, and his GOP critics are heroes: Judge Feldman's ruling sent oil-services companies' stock soaring, says Abe Greenwald in Commentary, but it sent Obama's tumbling. "In the Gulf of Mexico, it’s been about optics" — and this ruling erodes Obama's "moral authority" by putting him on the wrong side in the fight to save the people and economy of the Gulf Coast.
"The audacity of nope"
Safety's the loser here, not Obama: Judge Feldman's ruling "turns the whole concept of regulation on its head," says John Cole at Balloon Juice. He's essentially saying that federal regulators must prove a well's unsafe before shutting it down, which is a recipe for another catastrophe. That's a fishy bit of judicial activism, especially coming from a judge we now know once owned stock in numerous companies involved in the offshore oil industry.
"Good thing his ruling went this way"
Overturning the moratorium could actually help Obama: Judge Feldman's ruling could be "a lucky break" for President Obama, says Christopher Helman at Forbes. Imposing the ban made him look tough on the oil companies and "appeased the environmentalists," but lifting it early will "save an estimated 20,000 jobs in Louisiana alone" and give Obama "some political cover to impose even tougher rules and standards on drilling rigs."
"Deepwater ban lifted; Big Oil lesson learned"