Court to hear argument against drilling moratorium

NEW ORLEANS — Companies that ferry people and supplies to rigs in the Gulf of Mexico challenge President Barack Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater petroleum drilling.

U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman is scheduled to hear Hornbeck Offshore Services’ bid for an order to lift the moratorium today.

The Covington-based company claims the government suspended drilling at 33 exploration wells without any proof that they pose a threat. Industry officials say the ban will cost Louisiana thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost wages by sending rigs overseas for longterm contracts.

The government says it had plenty of reason for the ban, and calls allegations about its potential economic effect “alarmist and speculative.”

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