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Trump Administration Sued for Letting Oil Companies Dump Offshore Fracking Waste Into Gulf of Mexico

For Immediate Release

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 844-7108, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

NEW ORLEANS (February 13, 2018) — The Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network and Louisiana Bucket Brigade today sued the Trump administration for permitting oil companies to dump waste from fracking and drilling into the Gulf of Mexico without evaluating the dangers to water quality, marine species or the environment.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act permit for new and existing offshore oil and gas platforms operating in federal waters off Texas and Louisiana. The permit, finalized in September, allows oil companies to dump unlimited amounts of waste fluid, including chemicals used in fracking, into the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Trump administration is letting oil companies dump toxic fracking chemicals into the Gulf with no regard for the risks or the law,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center. “That’s just unacceptable. The EPA is supposed to protect water quality, not give oil companies free rein to use our oceans as their garbage disposal.”

Federal waters in the western Gulf of Mexico host the largest concentration of offshore oil and gas drilling activities in the country. Federal documents revealed that oil companies dumped more than 75 billion gallons of wastewater into these waters in 2014 alone. Records also show that fracking has been on the rise in the Gulf and that the EPA has failed to conduct any meaningful review of the environmental impacts of dumping fracking waste into the water.

“The EPA is putting marine wildlife and coastal communities at risk by rubber-stamping the dumping of dangerous fracking chemicals into our oceans. But we’re confident the court will set the record straight,” said Monsell.

Today’s lawsuit notes that the EPA’s issuance of the permit failed to comply with federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The suit aims to force the EPA to prohibit the dumping of fracking chemicals and other dangerous waste fluids into the Gulf unless and until the agency adequately studies and discloses the risks.

At least 10 fracking chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including marine mammals and fish, Center scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.

Discharging fracking chemicals into the Gulf raises grave ecological concerns because the Gulf provides important habitat for whales, sea turtles and fish — as well as being federally designated critical habitat for imperiled loggerhead sea turtles. Dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering the lingering destructive effects of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. 

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