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Environmental Defense Center v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20194
Nos. CV 16-8418 PSG (FFMx), (C.D. Cal., 11/09/2018)

A district court granted in part and denied in part environmental groups' motion for summary judgment relating to a proposal to permit hydraulic fracturing operations off the coast of California. The groups argued that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and DOI violated NEPA by failing to take a "hard look" at the potential environmental effects of offshore fracking and failing to prepare an EIS instead of an EA. But the court found that the agencies took a sufficiently hard look and reasonably concluded that an EIS was not required. Some of the groups also argued that BOEM and BSEE violated the CZMA, by failing to prepare a determination as to whether the proposed fracking was consistent with California's coastal management program, and the ESA, by failing to initiate consultation with FWS before issuing the final EA. The court agreed, finding that the agencies failed to consult and that they should have prepared a consistency determination because they engaged in "federal agency activity." The court therefore granted the groups' motion as to their ESA and CZMA claims, denied the motion as to their NEPA claim, and ordered the agencies not to approve any plans or permits for fracking on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf until they complete consultation with FWS and complete the CZMA process.