Didn't a federal judge stop the moratorium?
Yes, but only temporarily. On June 22, US District Court Judge Martin Feldman, responding to an industry lawsuit claiming economic harm, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the first six-month moratorium. He ruled that the moratorium was overbroad as well as "arbitrary and capricious." On July 8, a government motion to suspend the judge's injunction failed in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans.
In response, Salazar four days later issued a new order in which the government did not cite water depth to define the type of drilling to be banned but instead banned drilling by certain floating deep-water drill rigs. That new suspension has the same effect as the old moratorium, but may be harder for the oil industry to reverse in court, experts say.
"Judge Feldman essentially provided a road map for the Department of the Interior, and Secretary Salazar's memorandum follows that road map," writes Jeffrey Rachlinski, a professor of environmental law at Cornell University Law School in Ithaca, N.Y., in an e-mail interview. "The memo demonstrates that the problems that caused the Deepwater Horizon event are endemic to the industry as a whole, and not specific to BP."
Why does the Obama administration say a moratorium is needed?