The Obama administration late Friday appealed a judge's orders directing the Interior Department to act on several Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling permits.
The appeal is the latest salvo in the ongoing fight over the speed with which Interior is – or isn't – letting oil drillers get back to work after last year's BP oil spill.
Gulf state lawmakers and the oil industry have accused the department of enacting a "de facto" moratorium against new drilling, while Interior says it needs to ensure safety and environmental protections are in place.
Friday's appeal challenges rulings by Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, who on Feb. 17 gave Interior 30 days to make a verdict on five pending deepwater drilling permits applications. He later added two additional permits to that order