New Orleans federal Judge Martin Feldman will rule no later than Wednesday on a lawsuit from oilfield service companies that seeks to nullify a six month deep sea drilling moratorium imposed on the oil industry by the Obama administration. Feldman stated his intentions to issue a quick ruling at a hearing yesterday on the suit. The companies are arguing that the federal government imposed the moratorium, which affects all drilling in more than 500 feet of water, without adequate evidence that current operations pose a threat. They have asked the court to declare an injunction against the moratorium. Gov. Bobby Jindal's office has filed a brief in support of the lawsuit.

Today, The Wall Street Journal reports if Judge Feldman rules in the companies' favor, the federal government would likely appeal the case. In that event, Feldman could still rule to immediately lift the ban while the appeal goes through, although that is seen as somewhat unlikely.

In related news, short of the judicial branch overruling the Obama administration, the drilling ban appears likely to extend into 2011. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the commission established by President Obama to study the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, isn't likely to issue a its final report — much less a recommendation to lift the drilling ban — until 2011.

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