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Appeal of drilling moratorium ruling begins today

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court is set to hear the Justice Department’s bid to delay a judge’s decision to overturn a six-month deepwater drilling moratorium.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments today from lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit filed by companies that oppose the Obama administration’s temporary drilling ban.

The Interior Department says it halted new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells to protect the Gulf of Mexico from another environmental disaster while it studies the risks of deepwater drilling.

The government is asking the 5th Circuit panel for an order that would keep the moratorium in place while they appeal last month’s ruling.

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