- Associated Press - Monday, July 12, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will issue a new revised moratorium on offshore drilling Monday, two administration officials told the Associated Press.

Both officials requested anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement.

Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s effort to restore its initial offshore deep water drilling moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deep water projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. That moratorium, issued following the catastrophic Gulf oil spill in April, was first rejected last month by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.

“If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?” Judge Feldman asked. “Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.”

He said the moratorium “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.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time that he would issue a new deep water drilling moratorium that could be refined to reflect offshore conditions and allow drilling in areas where reserves and risks are known rather than in exploratory reservoirs.

In its appeal, the Interior Department asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let the temporary ban stand until it ruled on the merits of the case.

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore rigs argued that the moratorium was arbitrarily imposed following the April 20 explosion, which killed 11 workers and blew out a well 5,000 feet underwater.

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