NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Several oil service companies are asking a federal judge to block the Interior Department from enforcing a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman is scheduled to hear arguments Monday in New Orleans on Hornbeck Offshore Services' bid for lifting the moratorium.
A lawsuit filed by the company claims the government arbitrarily imposed the moratorium and suspended drilling at 33 existing exploratory wells without any proof that the operations posed a threat.
Hornbeck says the moratorium could cost Louisiana thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost wages. Government lawyers say the company is making "alarmist and speculative" allegations about the potential economic impact of the move.