Feb 2, 2011 8:03 PM by Alison Haynes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge who struck down the Obama administration's initial moratorium on deepwater drilling in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill is holding the Interior Department in civil contempt for what he called its "determined disregard" of his order.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled Wednesday that several offshore service companies that sued over the temporary drilling ban are entitled to have their attorneys' fees paid by the government. Feldman didn't rule on an amount.
Feldman chided the department for its "dismissive conduct" after he overturned the department's decision to halt approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspend drilling on 33 exploratory wells.
The department responded to Feldman's June order by issuing a second moratorium that its critics say was virtually identical to the first.