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Judge refuses to order action on drilling permits

A federal judge has refused to order government regulators to speed up the processing of deepwater drilling permit applications now that they have lifted the drilling ban imposed in the wake of ...

A federal judge has refused to order government regulators to speed up the processing of deepwater drilling permit applications now that they have lifted the drilling ban imposed in the wake of the massive Gulf oil spill.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman says it is unclear if the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management must approve or reject drilling permit applications within a specific time frame.

Ensco Offshore Company claims the government has wrongfully delayed issuing permits for deepwater drilling since it lifted a moratorium on the projects in October.

But Feldman says he isn't prepared right now to set deadlines for the Obama administration to act on five pending permit applications in which Ensco has a contractual stake.

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