The Obama administration is considering a host of options, including seeking a stay from the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, in order to maintain a moratorium on deepwater drilling after it was overturned by a federal judge.
Officials at the Department of Justice and within the administration convened Tuesday afternoon shortly after U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ordered an end to the halt in drilling put in place following the explosion at Deepwater Horizon. The administration had already pledged to immediately appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit Court. But in the interim, companies could legally restart drilling operations that had been put on hold.
Hoping to avoid that situation, officials bandied about several options, "one of which would be to seek a stay from the court," an administration official told the Huffington Post. Some of the options, however, "may not necessarily generate from the Justice Department," the official said, suggesting that the president would look at the political powers he has in this context.
"The goal is the same," the official said. "To keep the moratorium in place."
In putting such resources behind the deepwater drilling halt, the Obama White House will inevitably incur the wrath of a host of Gulf Coast lawmakers (Democrats and Republicans alike) who have been critical of the moratorium, citing the economic impact.
The White House, however, is clearly invested in allowing the presidential-appointed oil commission to continue to investigate what went wrong at the BP well and whether similar problems exist at other sites. In the end, the political hit they take for it may be outweighed by the growing public skepticism over deepwater drilling in general.