Texas AG challenges drilling moratorium News
Texas AG challenges drilling moratorium
Photo source or description

[JURIST] Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) [official website] on Wednesday filed a legal challenge [complaint, PDF] to the Obama administration’s new offshore drilling moratorium [JURIST news archive], claiming it violates federal law. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website], argues that the moratorium was created in violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act [text, PDF], which requires the US Department of the Interior to “cooperate with the relevant departments and agencies of the Federal Government and of the affected states.” The act, which affects all decisions relating to the “exploration, development, and production of minerals in the Outer Continental Shelf,” also says states are entitled to an opportunity to participate in the process. Abbott said that the federal government ignored his state [press release] throughout the process:

Under federal law, affected states are guaranteed the right to participate in offshore drilling-related policy decisions, but the Obama Administration did not bother to communicate, coordinate or cooperate with Texas. Worse, the Secretary of the Interior failed to consider the economic consequences of his decision, which will cost the Texas economy millions of dollars – and threatens far too many hard-working Texans’ jobs.

In addition to requesting the moratorium to be reversed, the complaint also requests that no future moratoriums be allowed unless Texas is given a reasonable opportunity to participate in the process and “due consideration is given to economic, social, and environmental values of the renewable and nonrenewable resources contained in the [Outer Continental Shelf].”

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a new six-month drilling moratorium [JURIST report], citing new evidence regarding safety concerns after the BP oil spill. Unlike the previously ordered moratorium, which a federal judge blocked [JURIST report] in June, this one is not based on the depths at which drilling occurs. Instead, the moratorium affects drilling with specific technologies, although the applicable technologies are most often used during deepwater drilling and will not affect shallow water drilling operations. The new plan, the government says, offers more specifics on the types of drilling that will and will not be blocked. More than 200 million gallons of oil leaked from a broken pipe in BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, surpassing the Exxon Valdez oil spill [JURIST news archive] as the worst in US history.