Description: Challenge to approvals of applications for permits for offshore drilling.
Environmental Defense Center v. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/29/2016 Settlement Agreement Download Parties stipulated to settlement. Settlement Agreement Required Analysis of Impacts of Well-Stimulation Practices on Pacific Outer Continental Shelf. Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reached settlement agreements pursuant to which the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will prepare a programmatic environmental assessment (EA) to analyze the potential impacts of certain well-stimulation practices including hydraulic fracturing on the Pacific outer continental shelf. The settlement agreements resolved lawsuits brought by EDC and CBD in 2014 and 2015 in which they alleged that the agencies had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). EDC had cited greenhouse gas emissions as one environmental risk that should have been considered prior to approving drilling permit applications. The agreements required the programmatic EA to be completed by May 28, 2016. Pursuant to the agreements, BSEE must withhold future approvals of drilling permit applications involving well-stimulation techniques while the programmatic EA is prepared. BSEE must provide notice to EDC and CBD of well-stimulation applications it receives for an interim period while BSEE works to establish a system for making information about submitted applications publicly available. 12/03/2014 Complaint Download Complaint filed. The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Central District of California alleging that federal agencies and officials failed to comply with NEPA when they approved 51 Applications for Permits to Drill and Applications for Permits to Modify for offshore drilling. EDC alleged that the permits would facilitate oil and gas development and production in federal waters off California’s coast and would authorize well stimulation such as acid well stimulation and hydraulic fracturing. EDC said that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement improperly relied on categorical exclusions or no written NEPA documentation at all in making its determinations on these permits. Among the environmental risks enumerated in the complaint are increased greenhouse gas emissions.