Judge Martin Feldman Lifts Deepwater Drilling Ban, Owns Stock in Oil Industry

A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Drilling services shares jumped on the news.

Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. More than a dozen Louisiana offshore service and supply companies sued U.S. regulators to lift the ban. The U.S. said it will appeal the decision.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in 2008 in Transocean Ltd., the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Feldman overturned the ban Tuesday, saying the government simply assumed that because one rig exploded, the others pose an imminent danger, too.

The Louisiana judge who struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has extensive investments in the oil and gas industry. US District Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 Reagan appointee, in 2008 reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in Transocean, the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.