Lawsuit Filed Against Five-Year OCS Leasing Program

The Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE) filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to halt the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) first five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program approved since the Macondo oil spill in April 2010.

CSE argues in the lawsuit that incomplete and flawed economic analysis led BOEM to rush ahead with new offshore leases that may not be economically justified in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and Administrative Procedure Act.

By failing to account for the option to wait to lease offshore resources, "BOEM has subjected the American public to a higher risk of catastrophic spills will failing to maximize benefits from lease sales," CSE said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia.

"Key factors were ignored by BOEM, including the massive uncertainty associated with the potential for deepwater drilling disasters, the current glut in gas production, record U.S. fuel exports and the fact that millions of acres of existing leases are idle," said Steven Sugarman, lead attorney in the lawsuit, in a statement.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau announced the proposed final offshore leasing program for 2012-2017 in late June.

The proposed leasing program has faced opposition from energy industry groups and some lawmakers, who argue that the proposed plan fails to open areas of the Outer Continental Shelf that contain the greatest known amounts of oil and natural gas resources.

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected Obama's proposed five-year offshore drilling plan, replacing it with legislation that would expand the number of lease sales held and open up leasing tracts on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California and Virginia.


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