Press Release | May 24, 2011

Court Allows Environmental Challenges to Post-Oil Spill Leases to Proceed

Ruling among First in Post-Spill Environmental Cases

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama late yesterday ruled that Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center may pursue their claims that the government violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act in approving at least 221 oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill. The groups claim that the leases were approved without any environmental review that considered the disaster.

The approvals were issued after April 20, 2010 as part of Lease Sale Number 213 in the Central Gulf of Mexico.

The groups contend that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (“BOEMRE,” formerly MMS) failed to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement after the oil spill and before approving the leases, and failed to ensure its actions in approving the leases do not jeopardize threatened and endangered species prior to approving the leases following the blowout and oil spill.

BOEMRE, the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the U.S. Oil & Gas Association, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. sought to dismiss these claims.

Defenders is represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center in the case.

About Defenders of Wildlife Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than one million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

Press Contacts

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-945-7106
Email: ksullivan@selcnc.org