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Environment

Feds Aren't Protecting Endangered Gulf Species From Oil Spills, Lawsuit Says

10-5-18_bp_spill_pixabay_cc.jpg
Pixabay Creative Commons
BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 continues to have an effect on marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. A lawsuit filed Wednesday says the federal government is not doing enough to protect endangered species from oil and gas companies.

Environmental groups have asked a federal court to toss out the Trump administration's assessment of how oil and gas activity could affect endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday challenges a federal review of how oil and gas programs affect endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the report dismisses the likelihood of another catastrophic oil spill like BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

The groups contend that the federal government failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act in assessing the harm that the offshore oil industry inflicts on endangered and threatened marine life in the Gulf.

The 2010 oil spill, which killed or seriously harmed more than 100,000 protected species, triggered the assessment. It took a decade to complete.

Plaintiffs say the National Marine Fisheries Service did not consider endangered species or their ecosystems during the evaluation, calling this a continuation of the Trump administration's eroding of the ESA.

“This administration is convinced that if they ignore something, it will go away,” said Chris Eaton, attorney at Earthjustice, in a press release.

“It’s not working for the climate crisis and it’s not going to work for oil spills. Ten years after Deepwater Horizon, the Gulf is still healing, and protecting its biodiversity and communities should be paramount. It’s ridiculous that we need to go back to federal court to force the federal government to even acknowledge that basic fact in its analysis.”

The lawsuit asks a court in Maryland to make the National Marine Fisheries Service write a new report, called a biological opinion. A spokeswoman says the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.