[JURIST] Environmental advocacy groups Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network and Save the Manatee Club [advocacy websites] filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday against oil British Petroleum (BP) [corporate website] for the ongoing harm to endangered and threatened wildlife caused by the company’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC backgrounder, JURIST news archive] in the Gulf of Mexico. The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) [text, PDF], holds that at least 27 endangered animal species inhabiting the Gulf were harmed by the oil spill. The filing specifically discusses the harm caused to sea turtles, whale species, birds and manatees. The groups claim that the endangered species have been harmed by significant habitat modifications that significantly impair essential behavioral patterns. The complaint cites testimony [text, PDF] given in September by oceanographer Ian McDonald to the National Oil Spill Commission [official website] where he stated that more than 50 percent of the total discharge of oil from the spill remains in the Gulf ecosystem. An attorney for the Defenders of Wildlife commented on the necessity of the suit [press release] stating, “[t]he harmful effects of the BP oil well blowout on endangered and threatened wildlife will continue for many years. Through this lawsuit, we ask the court to compel BP to provide the resources necessary to ensure imperiled species in the Gulf recover from this disaster.”
Numerous lawsuits are pending against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill. In August, Alabama Attorney General Troy King [official website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against BP for damages to the state’s coast and economy, claiming that the oil giant has failed in its efforts to accept responsibility for the oil spill. In July, a class-action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] was filed against the company in a Louisiana state court alleging that its negligent actions led to the spill and that BP was further negligent in its oversight of the cleanup effort, resulting in volunteers falling ill due to inadequate protective equipment. In June, two lawsuits were filed against BP [JURIST report] alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) [18 USC § 1961 et seq.] statute. The lawsuits allege that BP purposefully defrauded the American public in order to increase company profits. Also in June, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced that the DOJ is reviewing whether any civil or criminal laws were violated [JURIST report] by BP resulting in the oil spill. Holder cited several statutes being examined by government lawyers, including the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 [materials].