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Green groups sue over study of Deepwater Horizon impacts on endangered species

Green groups sue over study of Deepwater Horizon impacts on endangered species
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Conservation groups sued the Trump administration Wednesday, arguing it failed to fully consider the effects on endangered species when reviewing the environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

The 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico spurred a new evaluation of how species were faring after the spill.

That new biological opinion took a decade to complete, with many of the same environmental groups in 2018 suing the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for failure to do so.

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But Earthjustice and others say the new opinion didn’t do enough to assess how oil and gas operations or another spill could impact threatened and endangered species.

“This administration is convinced that if they ignore something, it will go away,” Chris Eaton, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a release. 

“It’s not working for the climate crisis and it’s not going to work for oil spills. Ten years after Deepwater Horizon, the Gulf is still healing, and protecting its biodiversity and communities should be paramount," he added. "It’s ridiculous that we need to go back to federal court to force the federal government to even acknowledge that basic fact in its analysis.”

A Fish and Wildlife release from 2016 notes the spill killed more than 100,000 birds. The 205.8-million-gallon spill also left sea turtles and dolphins covered in oil. The Center for Biological Diversity, another party in the suit, has previously estimated that 6,000 sea turtles and more than 25,000 marine mammals were harmed in the spill. 

The Department of the Interior defended its current plan.

"While the timing of the lawsuit is suspect, the department continues to work with the National Marine Fisheries to implement the requirements of the latest biological opinion, which includes many of the same mitigations for sensitive and endangered species that have been in place for at least two decades," spokesman Conner Swanson said in an email.