The federal judge who nixed the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling will not recuse himself from the case.

Several environmental groups and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are pushing for U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to withdraw from the case because of his investments in several oil and gas companies. Feldman, who sold some of his interest in the oil firms before hearing the case, said Friday he will not step down because the motion for disqualification is “without merit.”

Following Felman’s decision that the moratorium was not justified and could cause severe economic hardship for the Gulf Coast region, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the government’s bid to restore the ban on new permits for deepwater drilling and suspension of 33 exploratory drilling projects.

The Obama administration responded by issuing a new moratorium that it hopes will pass legal muster.

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