Judge Blocks Deep-Water Drilling Moratorium

A federal judge in New Orleans on Tuesday blocked a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling projects that the Obama administration imposed in response to the vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House swiftly said the administration would appeal the decision.In a 22-page ruling, United States District Judge Martin Feldman issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of a May 28 order halting all floating offshore drilling projects in more than 500 feet of water and preventing the government from issuing new permits for such activity.Citing the economic harm to businesses and workers in the Gulf that the moratorium would cause, Judge Feldman — a 1983 appointee of former President Ronald Reagan — wrote that the Obama administration had failed to justify the need for the sweeping suspension, which he characterized as “generic, indeed punitive.”He wrote that “the blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no on