Description: Challenge to programmatic biological opinion governing oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sierra Club v. National Marine Fisheries Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/24/2021 Memorandum Opinion Download Motion to transfer venue denied. Challenge to Biological Opinion for Oil and Gas Activity in Gulf of Mexico Will Remain in Maryland Federal Court. In a lawsuit challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2020 biological opinion concerning oil and gas activities on the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal district court for the District of Maryland denied a motion to transfer venue to the Eastern District of Louisiana or the Southern District of Texas. One of the four failings alleged by the plaintiffs was failure to consider the compounding effects of climate-related population shifts on threats to endangered species posed by leasing activity. Although the court found that either proposed transferee district would be a proper venue, it concluded that the defendants failed to demonstrate that either district would provide “a more convenient or equitable stage for litigating this matter.” 10/21/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Endangered Species Act Challenge to Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Leasing Program Cited Insufficient Analysis of Climate Change. Sierra Club and three other organizations challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS's) issuance of a programmatic biological opinion that governed oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico. The plaintiffs’ arguments included that the NMFS failed to account for how alterations to the population structure and distribution of endangered and threatened species such as whales, sea turtles, and Gulf sturgeon due to climate change would interact with the proposed action’s effects. The plaintiffs also asserted that the NMFS failed to use best available science regarding climate change’s impacts on endangered and threatened species and their habitat.