The European Parliament [official website] voted Thursday to support increased government scrutiny [resolution text] of deepwater drilling off Europe's coasts, but voted not to ban the practice as the Environmental Committee had urged [press release]. The resolution [AFP report], passed in response to April's Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC report; JURIST news archive] in the Gulf of Mexico calls on the European Commission (EC) [official website] to review current laws and procedure to prevent similar accidents and increase Europe's preparedness to deal with a similar disaster. The resolution also urges the EC to ensure that all liability for any pollution from drilling lies with the polluter. On October 13, EC Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger [official website] is expected to propose a temporary moratorium [Reuters report] on offshore drilling until the EC has a chance to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill and decide which changes, if any, Europe should make in its safety requirements.
Last week, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar [official profile] announced new drilling guidelines [JURIST report] designed to increase safety and reduce the likelihood of another catastrophic oil spill. Last month, a federal judge denied [JURIST report] the government's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by several drilling companies challenging the latest offshore drilling moratorium. The ruling held that there were "no substantial changes" between the July 12 directive and its predecessor, issued on May 28, that the new moratorium did nothing to amend or prevent the wrongs found in the first and that the wrongful behavior alleged in the original order could reasonably be expected to occur as a result of the more recent iteration. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] rejected a request to reinstate [JURIST report] the May 28 ban in July, weeks after the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] similarly declined [JURIST report]. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] originally asked the appeals court to stay the preliminary injunction [JURIST report] in June, on the basis that another deepwater spill could overwhelm the ongoing efforts to clean up the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill with catastrophic results. Lawyers for the DOJ also claimed that the district judge abused his discretion in issuing the injunction.