The past couple of weeks have been bad ones for President Obama. His approval rating is tanking, US credit was downgraded on his watch, ObamaCare took another shot on the chin, a certain governor joined the race to take his job away from him, and now a federal judge has kicked his oil drilling rules to the curb.
A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said.
The government argued that oil and gas companies had no case because they didn’t show how the new rules, implemented by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service last year, had created delays and added to the cost of drilling.
Freudenthal rejected that argument.
“Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury,” she said. “Those injuries are supported by the administrative record.”
Federal land agencies adopted new rules for interpreting the Energy Policy Act last year in response to an environmentalist lawsuit over the use of categorical exclusions. The Western Energy Alliance sued over the new rules last fall.
Judge Nancy Freudenthal is an Obama appointee.