U.S. judge blocks Atlantic seismic oil permitting during shutdown, Auto News, ET Auto

New Delhi: A federal court judge on Friday ruled that the federal government cannot process seismic testing permits for offshore oil drilling during the ongoing government shutdown, dealing a blow Trump administration'

s energy

agenda.

Judge Richard Gergel of the U.S. District Court in

South Carolina

issued the decision in response to a motion filed by a range of conservation and business groups and coastal cities opposed to the adminstration's efforts to expand U.S. offshore drilling.

The Justice Department had sought a delay in the court proceedings arguing that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case during the shutdown.

Gergel said in his decision that he would grant the stay, but said federal authorities cannot work on seismic permitting until the government re-opens and is funded.

The Interior Department has recalled employees, including those at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), to continue working on permitting for onshore and offshore

oil and gas

drilling and testing despite the shutdown, drawing criticism from Democrats and environmentalists.

"The Court hereby enjoins the federal defendants, BOEM, and any other federal agency or entity from taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action regarding the pending permit applications for oil and gas surveys in the Atlantic," Gergel wrote in his order.

BOEM spokeswoman Connie Gillette said the agency will comply with the judge's order but could ....

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