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U.S. files intent to appeal ruling on deep drilling ban

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

(CNN) -- Obama administration lawyers have filed intent-to-appeal documents in federal court in New Orleans, Louisiana, signally their intention to appeal Tuesday's ruling striking down a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

The administration also asked the court to delay lifting the ban until an appeals court reviews the case.

The request for a stay until the appeal is heard later this summer will be considered by Judge Martin Feldman who firmly struck down the ban, declaring it "arbitrary and capricious". He could rule on the government's request as early as Thursday, government officials said.

The government lawyers filed the motions, even as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar informed Congress that he soon plans to issue a new order which "might be refined" to allow limited deepwater drilling in some areas.

The judge had declared the blanket freeze on all deepwater drilling unjustified.

"An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country," the judge said.

The appeal is expected to be heard by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans following a series of lengthy court filings which normally require several weeks.