WASHINGTON – Obama administration officials estimated that a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would cost 23,000 jobs and decided on the ban anyway because of safety and inspection concerns, the Wall Street Journal said.

White House officials weighed alternatives to the ban after a federal judge threw out a moratorium put in place before the one currently in effect, the Journal said, citing more than 27,000 documents the Justice Department filed in New Orleans last week.

The documents show debate over how the administration would respond to legal and political opposition to the restrictions, the Journal said.

The current prohibition on most drilling in the Gulf is in effect until Nov. 30.

The federal document, which weighed the economic impact of and alternatives to the ban, was sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on July 10 by Michael Bromwich, The Associated Press reported.

Salazar issued a moratorium in June, but it was struck down by a federal judge in New Orleans after oil and gas drilling interests said it wasn’t justified following the Gulf oil spill.

The Obama administration issued a new moratorium July 12 — two days after the memo came out — that stressed new evidence of safety concerns. The White House hopes the revised ban will pass muster with the courts.

The moratoriums were put in place following the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion April 20 that killed 11 people. Millions of gallons of oil spilled.

 

— The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.