"NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the federal government's effort to restore an offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, opening the door to resumed drilling in the Gulf while the legal fight continues.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled soon after an afternoon hearing in a lawsuit filed by companies that oppose the drilling ban. The moratorium was struck down June 22 by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.
The Interior Department argued the moratorium was necessary while it studied deepwater drilling risks in the wake of the BP oil spill. Government lawyers asked the appeals court to let the temporary drilling ban stand until the 5th Circuit ruled on their appeal of the lower-court ruling.
A spokeswoman for the Interior Department did not immediately return a call seeking comment."...
..."The 5th Circuit's Thursday ruling won't be the final word. Judge W. Eugene Davis said the three-judge panel is likely to hold a hearing on the merits of the appeal in late August or early September." More>>>>