Federal lawyers are preparing to defend the Obama administration's moves to shut down offshore drilling in the wake of BP's oil 2010 oil spill before an appellate panel on Wednesday.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear an appeal by the Interior Department challenging a contempt of court finding U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued in February 2011. Feldman chided the department for its "dismissive conduct."
The oil and gas industry remains confident of the supplies available in the central Gulf of Mexico. The first oil and gas lease sale in that sector since the BP oil spill generated billions of dollars in bids.
The Interior Department is reviewing more than $700 million dollars in bids to drill in the western Gulf of Mexico. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the major bids in the first sale since the BP oil spill last year, and then visited a business still reeling from the spill.