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Hornbeck Offshore Servs. v. Salazar

Citation: 40 ELR 20173
No. No. 2:10-cv-01663, (E.D. La., 06/22/2010)

A district court granted an offshore service company's motion to enjoin the federal government's six-month general moratorium on deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The company established a likelihood of successfully showing that the federal government acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the moratorium. There is no evidence presented indicating that the Secretary of Interior balanced the concern for environmental safety with the policy of making leases available for development. Nor is there any suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives. And while the implementation of regulations and a new culture of safety are supportable by the record, the blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger. In sum, the government failed to cogently reflect on its decision to issue a blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium. The company also demonstrated it has suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm as a result of the moratorium. And the public interest weighs in the company's favor. The court, therefore, granted the company's motion for a preliminary injunction.