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Spill case judge has oil stock; Haward out of cleanup

 

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The Louisiana judge who struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has reported extensive investments in the oil and gas industry, according to financial disclosure reports. He's also a new member of a secret national security court.

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 t h a t own e d t h e s u n ke n 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 White House promised an immediate appeal. The Inter ior Depar tment had imposed the moratorium last month in the wake of the BP disaster, halting approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspending drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement late Tuesday that within the next few days he would issue a new order imposing a moratorium that eliminates any doubt it is needed and appropriate.

BP's new point man for the oil spill wouldn't say today if the company would resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked about it this mornin on NBC's "Today" show, BP managing director Bob Dudley said they will "step back" from the issue while they investigate the rig explosion.

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore rigs argued that the moratorium was arbitrarily imposed after the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and blew out a well 5,000 feet underwater. It has spewed anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons of oil.

Feldman's 2008 financial disclosure report — the most recent available — also showed investments in Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Halliburton was also invo lved in the do ome d Deepwater Horizon project.

Feldman did not respond to requests for comment and to clarify whether he still holds some or all of these investments.

Dudley to take over Gulf duties ROBERT BARR Associated Press Writer LONDON — Embat t led Englishman and CEO Tony Hayward today handed over BP's handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to an American executive brought up in one of the states affected by the disaster.

BP PLC confirmed that Bob Dudley is now the point man in the efforts to stop the oil gusher and deal with the economic damage it has caused.

In a sense, Hayward — who shocked Gulf residents when he said "I'd like my life back" and weeks later went yachting — will finally get his wish.

Dudley, who had led BP's operations in the Americas and Asia, was appointed president and chief executive of the newly created Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, effective immediately, and will report to Hayward.

"In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness. And we'll build an organization that over the longer term fulfills BP's commitments to the restore the livelihoods and the environment of the Gulf Coast," Dudley said.

The reorganization followed a series of humiliations in recent days for BP. Last week it bowed to President Barack Obama's demand that it set up a $20 billion escrow fund to cover damages and to suspend dividend payments, followed a day later by a public thrashing f o r Ha ywa r d b e f o r e a Congressional committee.

Hayward repeatedly apologized and expressed sorrow for the oil leak caused by a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20.

Eleven workers on the rig died.

Members of the House En e r g y a n d C omme r c e Committee were infuriated when Hayward denied direct responsibility for operational decisions which may have led to the disaster.

"You're really insulting our intelligence," Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, said at Thursday's hearing. "I am thoroughly disgusted."

Hayward had a further public relations gaffe over the weekend when he was photographed at a yacht race, and on Tuesday he ducked out of a previously announced commitment to speak at an oil industry conference in London.

A defining moment in BP's response to the disaster came on May 30 with Hayward's unguarded remark that "there's no one who wants this over more than I do. I'd like my life back."

 
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