"The federal judge who overturned Barack Obama's offshore drilling moratorium appears to own stock in numerous companies involved in the offshore oil industry—including Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to BP prior to its April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico—according to 2008 financial disclosure reports," Yahoo News reports.
According to Feldman's 2008 financial disclosure form, posted online by Judicial Watch [pdf], the judge owned stock in Transocean, as well as five other companies that are either directly or indirectly involved in the offshore drilling business.
It's not surprising that Feldman, who is a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has invested in the offshore drilling business—an AP investigation found earlier this month that more than half the federal judges in the districts affected by the BP spill have financial ties to the oil and gas industry.
The report discloses that in 2008, Judge Feldman held less than $15,000 worth of stock in Transocean, as well as similar amounts—federal rules only require that judges report a range of values—in Hercules Offshore, ATP Oil and Gas, and Parker Drilling. All of those companies offer contract offshore drilling services and operate offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Judge Feldman also owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in notes offered by Ocean Energy, Inc., a company that offers "concept design and manufacturing design of submersible drilling rigs," according to its web site. None of the companies were direct parties to the lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban.
US judge blocks Gulf deepwater drilling freeze
A US judge Tuesday ruled against a six-month freeze imposed on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, in a blow to the White House which immediately said it would appeal.
District judge Martin Feldman ruled in favor of 32 oil firms which challenged the moratorium on deepwater drilling and exploration imposed by President Barack Obama in the wake of the massive Gulf oil spill.
Feldman ruled the oil firms' motion for a "preliminary injunction is granted," saying he was persuaded it was in the public interest to lift the freeze by the Minerals Management Service and the Interior Department.
"The court has found the plaintiffs would likely succeed in showing that the agency's decision was arbitrary and capricious," Feldman said in his written ruling after Monday's hearing in a New Orleans court.
Describing the drilling decision as "invalid," Feldman said the moratorium would effect employment and energy supplies and "will clearly ripple throughout the economy in this region."
The agency decision "simply cannot justify the 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."
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "We will immediately appeal to the fifth circuit."