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Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC v. Salazar

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20081
Nos. No. 10-1663, (E.D. La., 02/02/2011)

A district court held DOI in contempt of court for imposing a second moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the court preliminarily enjoined the agency from enforcing the agency's original moratorium. Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, DOI issued a six-month moratorium against all companies involved in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. In June, the court preliminarily enjoined the DOI from enforcing the moratorium, concluding that it was arbitrary and capricious and, therefore, unlawful. Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction "showcases its defiance" to the court order: the government failed to seek a remand; it continually reaffirmed its intention and resolve to restore the moratorium; and it notified operators that though a preliminary injunction had issued, they could quickly expect a new moratorium. Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium and in light of the national importance of this case, provides clear and convincing evidence of the government's contempt of the court's preliminary injunction order.