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Conflict of interest? Definitely.

On her show last month, Rachel Maddow covered a story on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The judge who overturned the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has a financial portfolio. Ok, you say, what is wrong with that? He, like everyone else, wants to retire in comfort. Well, the only problem is that his portfolio contains a substantial number of shares in companies that might be affected by the oil spill. Judge Martin Feldman sold his shares of ExxonMobil on the day he issued his ruling that overturned the moratorium. His office claims that he did not know he owned the stock while he was conducting hearings related to the case. And, MSNBC researchers found, Judge Feldman is heavily invested in Blackrock, which in turn owns a huge number of shares in, you guessed it, BP. Watch the video here:


As Maddow notes, the problem is not that Judge Feldman owns the shares. He should be allowed to own whatever shares he wants. And just because he owns the shares does not mean that his decision was unjust. The question that must be asked is why was the case assigned to this particular judge? A month after the decision, drilling is now set to resume. Should not the case have at least been given another look?

As you probably know, we think the decision to overturn the ban on deepwater drilling was misguided. A plethora of evidence has proven the negligence of oil companies and drilling companies. We cannot trust them to continue drilling just yet. The potential for disaster remains too great.

Now we recognize there is a legitimate argument to continue drilling. People are losing their jobs and incomes because of the ban. Economically, the Gulf Coast suffers because of the ban. The question is, do the benefits of continuing drilling outweigh the potential risks?

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*Video courtesy of MSNBC via Firedoglake.