Green group sues Interior to reinstate offshore drilling ban

The Center for Biological Diversity filed litigation against the Interior Department Friday that seeks re-instatement of the federal deepwater drilling ban, alleging Interior lifted the moratorium this month without enough ecological study.

The green group's lawsuit claims that damage from the BP oil spill laid bare the need for a fuller analysis.

“We can no longer afford to have our government simply taking the oil industry at its word when it comes to ensuring the safety of people and the environment. Offshore drilling is a dangerous business, and [Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar’s Interior Department needs to take that threat seriously,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center’s oceans director, in a statement.




The lawsuit adds to attacks on Interior’s oil-and-gas drilling policy from the left and the right. Industry groups say Interior is acting too slowly to grant permits.

But the Center’s lawsuit contends Interior violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to craft a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement.

“The Center seeks an order setting aside the Secretary’s unlawful decision, thus reinstating the moratorium on deepwater drilling, and requiring the Secretary to conduct full and adequate analysis of the environmental impacts stemming from his decision to lift the suspension of deepwater drilling,” states the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“Such an order is necessary to afford the sensitive species and ecosystems of the Gulf, as well as the individuals and communities dependant on those resources, the procedural and substantive protections to which they are lawfully entitled and, in light of the massive oil spill, so desperately need,” the lawsuit contends.