Inspenet, September 25, 2023.
Chevron, Shell Offshore and the state of Louisiana, USA have filed a lawsuit with the aim of annulling the reduction in the oil extraction area. In response to this legal action, a federal judge has issued an order forcing the United States Department of the Interior to expand the sale of permits for oil and gas extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.
The measure had originally been planned for next week, but was modified by the Joe Biden administration to protect an endangered whale species. This represents a new challenge for its administration.
In accordance with the initial proposal announced in March, the sale scheduled for September 27 was intended to authorize the exploitation of 30 hectares of underwater land. However, in August, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) modified the final plans for the sale, reducing the authorized area to 27 hectares.
However, U.S. District Judge James David Cain Jr., sitting in Lake Charles, restored the original extension in an order issued Thursday night. The BOEM review also incorporated new speed limits and requirements for personnel on oil tankers in some of these areas, which were also blocked by Cain’s order.
Likewise, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) had adopted the reduction of the extraction area and new regulations for the next sale of permits as part of an agreement reached last month between the government and environmental groups, in order to to resolve a lawsuit related to whale protection that was filed in federal court in Maryland.
The US position
Chevron, Shell Offshore, the American Petroleum Institute and the state of Louisiana filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the decline in harvesting area and stop new whale protection measures that were included in the conditions of sale of the permits. These companies argued that the government’s actions violated the provisions of the Spending Reduction Act, which sought to promote clean energy and open new opportunities for extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.
They also argued that the modifications made after the proposed sale in March constitute a violation of federal law because they were approved without adequate justification of their need.
However, currently, the White House is in a delicate situation and faces various accusations. On the other hand, there is a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice and other environmental groups that seeks to completely stop the sale of permits, arguing that this violates the National Environmental Policy.
These groups claim the government did not adequately consider threats to the health of Gulf coastal communities near the refineries, nor the impacts of fossil fuel extraction on climate change.