Enviros sue over offshore drilling impact on wildlife

By Michael Doyle, Heather Richards | 04/08/2024 01:16 PM EDT

The lawsuit contends a Fish and Wildlife Service assessment ignored the effect on endangered and threatened species of climate change caused by oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

An oil rig.

An oil rig is seen April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico near the Chandeleur Islands, off the southeastern tip of Louisiana. Gerald Herbert, File/AP

Environmentalists on Monday filed a broad legal challenge to a 2018 Fish and Wildlife Service assessment that has been essential for offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Citing the potential harm to myriad federally protected species, including manatees and sea turtles, the Center for Biological Diversity contends in the lawsuit that the FWS’s 2018 assessment “ignores” the impact of oil and gas drilling on climate change.

Climate change, in turn, is identified as a threat to six sea turtle species, four beach mice species, nine bird species and the manatee, all of which are listed as threatened or endangered. Under the Endangered Species Act, the FWS was required to prepare the 2018 “biological opinion” as part of a consultation with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.


“The federal government’s blatant disregard for the climate crisis is alarming. By approving more and more fossil fuel extraction, they’re deepening the problem,” said David Derrick, an attorney at CBD.