A federal court in Louisiana has ordered the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to act within 30 days on six pending permit applications for deepwater exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.Ensco Offshore Co. v. Salazar, No. 10-1941 (E.D. La. 5/10/11). The order was issued in a lawsuit that Ensco Offshore, a drilling contractor, filed in July 2010 to challenge the offshore drilling moratorium that DOI imposed after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident. Plaintiff argued that the moratorium violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.” According to the court, DOI has a non-discretionary duty to act, “favorably or unfavorably, on drilling permit applications within a reasonable time.” The court also noted, “[t]he government has presented no credible assurances that the permitting process will return to one marked by predictability and certainty.”