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South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Ross

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20040
Nos. 2:18-3326-RMG, (D.S.C., 02/18/2020) (Gergel, J.)

A district court denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to NMFS' decision to issue incidental harassment authorizations to five companies to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas in the Mid- and South Atlantic Ocean. South Carolina challenged President Trump's reversal via Executive Order No. 13795 of public lands previously withdrawn from oil and gas leasing by President Obama under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, arguing that Congress gave the president the authority to withdraw land from leasing on the outer continental shelf but not the power to reverse that decision and make that land eligible for leasing again. NMFS argued that a finding that Executive Order No. 13795 was beyond the president's authority would not redress the state's challenge to the proposed seismic testing activity, and thus moved to dismiss for lack of standing. The court found ample evidence that South Carolina asserted a sufficiently serious claim, given that another district court vacated the Executive Order and that DOI paused efforts to expand leasing on the outer continental shelf pending further judicial review. It therefore denied NMFS' motion to dismiss South Carolina's claim regarding Executive Order No. 13795.