Common sense came to the rescue over politics when an appointee of Pres. Ronald Reagan to the bench, Fifth Circuit District Judge Martin Feldman, stayed temporarily the moratorium Pres. Barack Obama had placed on drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico. It gives Louisiana its life back but further imperils the political life of Obama.
Feldman, known for his scholarly attention to jurisprudence, showed erudition in his decision. Essentially, he noted that Obama did not pay close enough attention to the law in considering the moratorium, thereby hinting that political considerations had triumphed over rationality. That certain comports to other aspects of the incident where it has become clear that Obama’s decision-making has hewed to the desires of the know-nothings overpopulating the environmental lobby and of others who see the drawdown and elimination of oil production as part of their ideology and/or of their pursuit of profit. The composition of the sham panel that was supposed to meet to adjudge the future of offshore drilling (and on a schedule likely to have extended the inactivity further), chock full of blind ideologues and/or of insiders whose interests would prosper with the waning of oil production, was just another tipoff that the moratorium was first and foremost a political exercise to appeal to Obama’s base.
The ruling lays bare the politics behind Obama’s decision and predictably drew the political response of an appeal. If followed through, that means nothing about the moratorium will stay in effect until that is heard from the Fifth Circuit, several months in the future basically eliminating it. This signals that Obama clearly has gone all in with the anti-drilling Luddites because otherwise he would try to negotiate a compromise. That no negotiations during the injunction period seem likely now means he does not want to budge from the no drilling stance.
(A red herring as far as political aspects of the case go is Feldman’s reported ownership in 2008, the latest financial disclosure report for judges, of shares in Transocean, the owner of the rig that exploded to set the stage for the moratorium, and in Halliburton who made components incident to the attempt extract oil that failed. That he took the case strongly indicates he no longer has these shares – probably dumped them or a trustee dumped them for him two months ago like so many other investors – but even if he still held them on his own the ruling will do nothing to benefit either company for they can always do business elsewhere than in the Gulf. It’s oil companies, Louisiana, and U.S. consumers that were being hurt by Obama’s political decision, not these entities.)
In the state, almost every Louisiana politician comes up a winner, certainly at the national level where the only Rep. Charlie Melancon gains no clear benefit because he has articulated a vague strategy between current practice and a moratorium (and also because he accused oil companies of wanting to “kill Nigerians”), where all others wanted to moratorium gone, no conditions. Which yet again is an instance of Melancon turning the gun and firing on himself as his campaign for Senate becomes, unbelievably, even more hopeless than before.
At the national level, Obama clearly comes up the loser as he takes all the political heat for bending over backwards for the moratorium with nothing substantial to show for it. Continuing to do so may be red meat for his liberal base, but in a way it’s helpful to Louisiana also since that effectively prevents enforcement of the moratorium now and further destabilizes Obama’s chance at reelection in the future.