Last week the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on oil and gas Lease 257 issued by the U.S. Government for 80.8 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico pursuant to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (“BOEM”) 2017–2022 Program. The ruling in Friends of the Earth v. Haaland, among other things addressed issues of climate change. If upheld, the determination may have far reaching impacts.
The action, against various federal officials alleged that the issuance of the Lease violated the National Environmental Protection Act (“NEPA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The Court addressed four cross motions for summary judgment.
The Lease involves the portion of the Gulf of Mexico known as the Outer Continental Shelf. “The Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act (“OCSLA”) is the statutory framework under which the Department of the Interior may lease areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. 43 U.S.C. 1334; Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior,563 F.3d 466, 472 (D.C. Cir.2009) [hereinafter “Biological Diversity”]. OCSLA sets forth a four-stage process for potential oil and gas production that is “pyramidic in structure, proceeding from broad-based planning to an increasingly narrower focus as actual development grows more imminent.” State of Cal. ex rel. Brown v. Watt, 668 F.2d 1290,1297 (D.C. Cir. 1981).”