Judge who overturned drilling moratorium reported owning stock in drilling companies

By John Cook
Yahoo! News

The federal judge who overturned Barack Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium reported owning stock in numerous companies involved in the offshore oil industry — including Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to BP prior to its April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico — according to 2008 financial disclosure reports.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued a preliminary injunction today barring the enforcement of the president’s proposed six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, arguing that the ban is too broad.

According to Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure form, posted online by Judicial Watch [pdf], the judge owned stock in Transocean, as well as five other companies that are either directly or indirectly involved in the offshore drilling business.

It’s not surprising that Feldman, who is a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has invested in the offshore drilling business — an Associated Press investigation found earlier this month that more than half the federal judges in the districts affected by the BP spill have financial ties to the oil and gas industry.

The report discloses that in 2008, Judge Feldman held less than $15,000 worth of stock in Transocean, as well as similar amounts (federal rules only require that judges report a range of values ) in Hercules Offshore, ATP Oil and Gas, and Parker Drilling. All of those companies offer contract offshore drilling services and operate offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Judge Feldman also owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in notes offered by Ocean Energy, Inc., a company that offers “concept design and manufacturing design of submersible drilling rigs,” according to its website. None of the companies were direct parties to the lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban.

Judge Feldman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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