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Defenders of Wildlife v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20197
Nos. No. 10-0254, (S.D. Ala., 05/23/2011)

A district court granted in part and denied in part the government's motion to dismiss an environmental group's claims that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) failed to modify its policies and practices concerning offshore oil and gas leasing operations in the Gulf of Mexico as required by NEPA, the ESA, and the APA. The group alleged that the BOEMRE violated the APA and the ESA by failing to reinitiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the FWS based on new information from the Deepwater Horizon spill showing that deepwater drilling in that area may harm endangered or threatened species and critical habitat. But the BOEMRE has begun consultation. Accordingly, this claim is moot. The group also argued that the BOEMRE violated the APA and the ESA by "proceeding with lease sales in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon incident . . . in violation of its independent duty to ensure that its actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species." The government's motion to dismiss this claim construed it as being geared toward future lease sales. But a plain reading of the complaint demonstrates that the claim is directed only at past or present actions by the BOEMRE, not at future lease sales that have not yet happened. The government's motion was therefore denied. The court also denied various interveners' motions to dismiss.