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Think Progress

Judge Who Ruled Against Offshore Drilling Moratorium Invests in Oil Industry


Today, Judge
Martin Feldman
, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern
District of Louisiana, sided with a drilling company which had argued
that the Obama administration’s blanket,
6-month moratorium
on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was
illegal. The drilling company, Hornbeck Offshore Services of Covington,
LA, claimed financial distress from the imposition of the moratorium.
In the ruling handed down this afternoon, Judge Feldman agreed, writing
that the administration made an “arbitrary
and capricious
” decision that would have an “immeasurable effect on
the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical
present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this
country.” Like many judges presiding in the Gulf region, Feldman owns
lots of energy stocks, including Transocean, Halliburton, and two of
BP’s largest U.S. private shareholders — BlackRock (7.1%) and JP Morgan
Chase (28.3%). Here’s a
list of Feldman’s income in 2008
(amounts listed unless under

($12000- $36000)
Ocean Energy ($1000 –
NGP Capital Resources ($1000 –
Quicksilver Resources ($5000 –
($6000 – $17500)
Provident Energy
Peabody Energy
PenGrowth Energy
Atlas Energy

Parker Drilling
TXCO Resources
EV Energy Partners

BPZ Resources
El Paso Corp
Chesapeake Energy
ATP Oil & Gas

In his opinion today, Feldman wrote, “Oil and gas production is quite
simply elemental
to Gulf communities.” Indeed, it is so elemental
that the justice system is invested in the oil and gas industry. As TP’s
Ian Millhiser has written, “Industry ties among federal judges are so
widespread that they are beginning to endanger the courts’ ability
to conduct routine business
. Last month, so many members of the
right-wing Fifth Circuit were forced to recuse themselves from an appeal
against various energy and chemical companies that there weren’t enough
untainted judges left to allow the court to hear the case.”

Update White House Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that the administration will "immediately
appeal to the 5th Circuit
." The Sierra Club will join
the appeal

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