SIERRA CLUB, et al. v. NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, et al. & AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE, * et al.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland approved an agreement between parties to a lawsuit challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) alleged failure to adequately protect endangered Rice’s whales and other imperiled marine animals from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the agreement, litigation filed by the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Turtle Island Restoration Network will be stayed for up to a year from September 1, 2023, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will exclude certain Rice’s whale habitat from lease sales, and BOEM will require future oil and gas leaseholders to reduce risks of vessel strikes and other disturbances to Rice’s whales. On August 17, 2023, BOEM notified existing leaseholders of their obligation to avoid the “take” of protected Rice’s whales and recommended protective measures.
[To accompany Case Update "Lawsuit Results in Agency Agreement to Better Protect Rice’s Whales and Other Imperiled Marine Animals from Oil and Gas Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico" from Brooks Animal Law Digest Issue No. 204]