"If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all
airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavyhanded, and rather overbearing."
The problem is not that "all" equipment is a danger, but that it is impossible to tell at this stage which equipment or wells are suspect and which are not. Given the fact that any well is potentially a disaster waiting to happen, and that the consequence of a well failure is demonstrably catastrophic, the moratorium is not unreasonable as an opportunity to assess safety.
More to the point, it is explicitly prohibited for the reviewing court to substitute its judgment for that of the expert agency. Perhaps the judge feels this is "heavyhanded and rather overbearing." Perhaps he is even right. But it is not for a judge to make that determination. Especially here, where an expert agency must balance numerous competing factors it is utterly inappropriate for a court to substitute its determination of appropriate policy.
This may get reversed on appeal. It may even go up to the Supremes, given the impact of this decision on federal emergency power (and also because there is apparently a circuit split between the DC Cir. and the 8th Cir.)
Link to decision (hat tip to goldsquare).
UPDATE: Judge may have conflict of interests. Impossible to tell as latest financial disclosure forms not out. http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/judge-moratorium-case-stock-transocean