Federal Judge Temporarily Shuts Down Administration’s Work on Seismic Permits. Government shutdown has at least one positive result.

Federal Judge Temporarily Shuts Down Administration’s Work on Seismic Permits. Government shutdown has at least one positive result.

Even without a new budget for the department, the Trump Administration had called employees at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) back to work.  Officials said that it was critical for BOEM to continue to process the permits from five seismic testing companies that want to airgun blast the Atlantic to look for oil.

Upon learning about this, the SC Attorney General’s Office called the matter to the attention of the Federal District Court in Charleston and called for deadlines to legal matters be extended because of the government shutdown.

Judge Richard Gergel did more than that (see ruling below).  Today he stopped all federal agencies, including BOEM:

from taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action regarding the pending permit applications for oil and gas surveys in the Atlantic… This injunction shall remain in effect until funds have been appropriated for the Department of Justice and all Federal Defendants, the Court has received the Federal Defendants’ responses to the pending motions to intervene, and the Court has ruled on those motions.

The Judge is not going to let federal agencies do an end run around the legal process by quietly working on and approving the seismic permits and then claiming that it can’t respond to an injunction request because of the government shutdown.

Big thanks to AG Alan Wilson and his staff for being on top of this.

Today was a good day for our effort to protect the Atlantic Coast and our local economies from Big Oil.

Frank Knapp

Docket Text:
ORDER GRANTING STAY AND ALL WRITS ACT INJUNCTION The Court grants the FederalDefendants’ motion to stay (Dkt. No. [60]) and issues an injunction pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). Pursuant to the All Writs Act, the Court hereby ENJOINS the Federal Defendants, BOEM, and any other federal agency or entity from taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action regarding the pending permit applications for oil and gas surveys in the Atlantic based on the five incidental harassment applications issued by the NMFS to Spectrum Geo Inc., TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Inc., Ion GeoVentures (and subsidiary GX Technology Corporation), WesternGeco LLC and CGG. This injunction shall remain in effect until funds have been appropriated for the Department of Justice and all Federal Defendants, the Court has received the Federal Defendants’ responses tothe pending motions to intervene (Dkt. Nos. 34, 59), and the Court has ruled on those motions. The Federal Defendants are DIRECTED to file a response to the pending motions to intervene within thirteen (13) days of the restoration of funding to the Department of Justice and the Federal Defendants, and other parties may file a reply if they wish within five (5) days thereafter. The Court will thereafter promptly rule on the pending motions to intervene. As this injunction applies not only to the Federal Defendants, but also the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Clerk is directed to serve notice of this opinion and injunction to the BOEM no later than January 18, 2019. See In re Baldwin-United Corp., 770 F.2d at 340 (“As for notice the requirements of the All-Writs Act are satisfied if the parties whose conduct is enjoined have actual notice of the injunction and an opportunity to seek relief from it in the district court.”). AND IT IS SO ORDERED. Signed by Honorable Richard M Gergel on 1/18/2019.(sshe, )