After the massive gulf oil spill on April 20th, the Obama Administration imposed a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling and suspended existing efforts. Today, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans overturned the moratorium, citing “the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region” and more.
It’s no coincidence that the judge’s decision invokes finances. The term derives from the Latin moratorius, “to delay,” and enters English as “a legal authorization to a debtor to postpone payment for a certain time.” Later, the more general sense of any “suspension of activity” becomes common.
The psychologist Erik Erikson extended the meaning of the word to human emotions. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a moratorium can also be “a period of delay before an adolescent’s final commitment to a mature adult identity.”
Whether or not you think the judge’s decision to lift the drilling moratorium is mature is up to you.