(CN) – The 5th Circuit turned down the Obama administration’s request to reinstate a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The administration had justifed the moratorium by citing concerns about the capacity to respond to massive oil spills after a BP well exploded on April 10, triggering the nation’s largest spill.
Offshore drilling companies sued, claiming the temporary ban on deepwater drilling would devastate the Gulf economy.
A federal judge blocked the moratorium from taking effect and the 5th Circuit refused to grant the Obama administration’s request to stay, or delay, that decision pending appeal.
The three-judge panel said the government “failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury if the stay is not granted.”
However, the court added that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could apply for emergency relief if he can show that drilling has resumed or is about to start up again pending appeal.