Commerce response to Court 5-9-19

Commerce response to Court 5-9-19

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA

CHARLESTON DIVISION

 

 

)
SOUTH CAROLINA COASTAL )
CONSERVATION LEAGUE, et al., )
) Civ. No. 2:18-cv-3326-RMG
Plaintiffs, )
) (Consolidated with 2:18-cv-3327-RMG)
v. )
) FEDERAL DEFENDANTS’ STATUS
WILBUR ROSS, in his official capacity ) REPORT
as the Secretary of Commerce, et al., )
)
Defendants. )
)

 

In response to the Court’s Order dated May 2, 2019 (ECF 266), requiring Federal Defendants to inform the Court what impact, if any, a “recently reported announcement by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt” concerning the Department of the Interior’s appraisal of the March 29, 2019 decision in League of Conservation Voters et al. v. Trump et al., Case No. 3:17-cv-00101-SLG (D. Alaska), has on this case, “including on the pending permit requests before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the already issued Incidental Harassment Authorizations,” Federal Defendants and BOEM1 provide the following information:

 

  1. League of Conservation Voters et al. v. Trump et al., Case No. 3:17-cv-00101-SLG (D. Alaska) addresses the authority of the President to modify prior leasing withdrawals under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”). That decision has no legal effect on any proposed seismic activities (in the Atlantic OCS or elsewhere)

 

 

  • Neither the Department of Interior nor BOEM are parties to the lawsuit, and are providing this information at the Court’s request.

 

 

 

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2:18-cv-03326-RMG            Date Filed 05/09/19 Entry Number 281     Page 2 of 4

 

 

 

 

 

or the Incidental Harassment Authorizations NMFS issued in November 2018.

 

  1. Specifically, BOEM may authorize seismic survey activity in the OCS even in areas of the OCS that are not open to oil and gas exploration. Entities seeking to conduct geological and geophysical surveys can therefore obtain a permit in any area of the OCS, including those areas that have been withdrawn from leasing. See 43 U.S.C. § 1340; 30 C.F.R. pt. 551; see also Declaration of W. Cruickshank at ¶ 4.
  2. Neither the Department of the Interior nor the Secretary of the Interior have made any announcement that the Department “may wait until the resolution of any potential appeal” of the March 29, 2019 decision in League of Conservation Voters et al. v. Trump et al., Case No. 3:17-cv-00101-SLG “prior to making any decision on authorizing offshore activities.” ECF 266; Declaration of W. Cruickshank at ¶ 5. The Department of the Interior views the issues addressed in the League of Conservation Voters decision as legally distinct from those presented in the context of seismic surveys in the OCS. The Department of Interior is evaluating all of its options in light of that recent court decision. Declaration of W. Cruickshank at ¶ 5. “Specifically, the Department is evaluating what, if any, effect that decision may have on planning for OCS lease sales in the National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National Program) of the Department.” Id. Again, “the location of sales scheduled in the National Program is not determinative of where seismic exploration may be permitted.” Id.
  3. In light of the foregoing, the permit applications submitted by Spectrum Geo Inc., TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, ION GeoVentures, WesternGeco, LLC, and CGG are still under review by BOEM and the Department of Interior. Declaration of W. Cruickshank at ¶ 6.

 

 

 

 

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2:18-cv-03326-RMG            Date Filed 05/09/19 Entry Number 281     Page 3 of 4

 

 

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted this 9th day of May, 2019.

 

JEAN E. WILLIAMS

Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Environment & Natural Resources Division

SETH M. BARSKY, Chief

MEREDITH L. FLAX, Assistant Chief

 

By:     /s/ Alison C. Finnegan

ALISON C. FINNEGAN, Trial Attorney

JONELLE DILLEY, Trial Attorney

U.S. Department of Justice

Environment & Natural Resources Division

Wildlife & Marine Resources Section

P.O. Box 7611

Washington, D.C. 20044-7611

Tel: (202) 305-0500; Fax: (202) 305-0275

 

Email: alison.c.finnegan@usdoj.gov

Email: Jonelle.Dilley@usdoj.gov

 

LISA RUSSELL, Chief

GUILLERMO MONTERO, Assistant Chief

 

By:    Marissa A. Piropato

MARISSA A. PIROPATO

Sr. Trial Attorney, MA Bar No. 651630

U.S. Department of Justice

Environment & Natural Resources Division

Natural Resources Section

Ben Franklin Station, P.O. Box 7611

Washington, D.C. 20044-7611

Tel ǀ (202) 305-0470

Fax ǀ (202) 305-0506

Email: marissa.piropato@usdoj.gov

 

Counsel for Federal Defendants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

I hereby certify that on May 9, 2019, I electronically filed the foregoing Federal Defendants’ Status Report with the Clerk of Court using the CM/ECF system, which will send electronic notification of such filing to all counsel of record.

/s/ Alison C. Finnegan