Today, Judge Martin Feldman, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, sided with a drilling company which had argued that the Obama administration’s blanket, 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was illegal. The drilling company, Hornbeck Offshore Services of Covington, LA, claimed financial distress from the imposition of the moratorium. In the ruling handed down this afternoon, Judge Feldman agreed, writing that the administration made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision that would have an “immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.” Like many judges presiding in the Gulf region, Feldman owns lots of energy stocks, including Transocean, Halliburton, and two of BP’s largest U.S. private shareholders — BlackRock (7.1%) and JP Morgan Chase (28.3%). Here’s a list of Feldman’s income in 2008 (amounts listed unless under $1,000):
BlackRock ($12000- $36000)Ocean Energy ($1000 — $2500)NGP Capital Resources ($1000 — $2500)Quicksilver Resources ($5000 — $15000)Hercules Offshore ($6000 — $17500)Provident EnergyPeabody EnergyPenGrowth EnergyRPC IncAtlas Energy ResourcesParker DrillingTXCO ResourcesEV Energy PartnersRowan CompaniesBPZ ResourcesEl Paso CorpKBR IncChesapeake EnergyATP Oil & Gas
In his opinion today, Feldman wrote, “Oil and gas production is quite simply elemental to Gulf communities.” Indeed, it is so elemental that the justice system is invested in the oil and gas industry. As TP’s Ian Millhiser has written, “Industry ties among federal judges are so widespread that they are beginning to endanger the courts’ ability to conduct routine business. Last month, so many members of the right-wing Fifth Circuit were forced to recuse themselves from an appeal against various energy and chemical companies that there weren’t enough untainted judges left to allow the court to hear the case.”
,To be clear, Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure shows that he owns three different mutual funds run by BlackRock, not a direct investment in the company itself.