Court rejects challenge to Gulf of Mexico lease sale

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 31, 2014 

A federal judge on Monday rejected environmentalists’ challenge to a Gulf of Mexico lease sale.

Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council had joined with other groups in fighting what they described as the “first new lease sale since the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” in which some 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf in April 2010.

In a 64-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sided with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s handling of Lease Sales 216/222 and 218. Among many other arguments, Contreras said it was not unreasonable that the National Marine Fisheries Service won’t have its Biological Opinion assessing the lease sale finished until March 2015.

“Regardless of the length of delay, the Court finds that NMFS has acted reasonably throughout the

consultation process,” Contreras wrote. “And moreover, because context means everything in assessing an alleged undue delay, there is no per se rule as to what amount of time constitutes undue delay.”

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