Environment: New Gulf oil leases challenged in court

A massive oil slick from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster spreads across the northern Gulf of Mexico, visible in this NASA satellite image as a sheen on the surface.

Conservation coalition says feds are ignoring painful lessons of Deepwater Horizon oil disaster

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New deep water drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico won’t go forward without a legal test, as a coalition of environmental groups last week challenged the Department of Interior’s decision to proceed with new permits without fully addressing the risks to wildlife and the environment.

While drilling regulators believe they have developed a robust new set of safety and environmental regulations, the conservation community thinks otherwise, claiming in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management dismissed the lessons learned during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and failed to obtain essential information about the status of species and resources still suffering from the 2010 oil spill. Continue reading

Cape Hatteras gets new beach-driving rules

Non-motorized zones to protect coastal wildife

A loggerhead turtle heads toward the sea at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The National Park Service last week announced new rules on beach driving to protect nesting and baby sea turtles and birds, as well as pedestrians, at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

In 2007, Audubon North Carolina, Defenders of Wildlife and Southern Environmental Law Center turned to the courts for help in getting the park service to implement long overdue safeguards for pedestrians and beach-nesting wildlife on park beaches overrun by off-road vehicles.

“The park service’s rules are a compromise that provides protections for both pedestrians and wildlife while still allowing responsible beach driving,” said Julie Youngman, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. Continue reading

Court rejects efforts to strip beluga whale protections

A pod of Beluga whales. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE.

Decision offers some hope for dwindling populations of endangered cetaceans

By Summit Voice

A federal judge this week rejected an attempt by Alaska to strip Cook Inlet beluga whales of Endangered Species Act protections. Last spring, the National Marine Fisheries Service designated critical habitat for the whales despite state’s lawsuit.

“Today’s decision again clarifies that the belugas are in serious trouble. Now it’s time to get serious about finding solutions. Legal sideshows by the state are getting us nowhere,” said Sue Libenson, executive director of the Alaska Center for the Environment.

“This is clearly a case where science and the rule of law prevailed,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council.  “The Cook Inlet belugas are an iconic species in Alaska and it is now absolutely essential that we protect them and their habitat if the population is to survive.” Continue reading

BP sued for endangered species harm in Gulf

Manatees are among the many endangered species that could suffer additional harm from BP's failed oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, according to several environmental groups suing the oil company under the Endangered Species Act.


Sea turtles, sperm whale and Gulf sturgeons are already on the brink; oil could push some species even closer to the edge

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As they announced a few months ago, environmental groups have sued BP under the Endangered Species Act for the ongoing harm to endangered and threatened wildlife caused by the company’s massive Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it’s illegal to harm animals listed as threatened or endangered. The Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center said the oil that spewed from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig directly imperils 32 threatened or endangered species, including the sperm whale, gulf sturgeon, manatee and five kinds of sea turtles (leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley), as well as the waters, coastal wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges that many of these species call home. Continue reading

BP facing endangered species lawsuit over oil impacts

USFWS biologists/sea turtle experts Dianne Ingram (left) and Lorna Patrick carefully monitor recently excavated sea turtle eggs in a temperature-controlled container during a nest relocation at Port St. Joe, FL. Photo by Denise Rowell, USFWS.

Groups say a host of marine creatures and birds are imperiled by oil, dispersants

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two environmental groups announced Friday they intend to sue BP or the unauthorized take of endangered species caused by the continuing oil spill and use of dispersants.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it’s illegal to harm animals listed as threatened or endangered. The Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center say the oil gushing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig directly imperils 32 threatened or endangered speciesincluding the sperm whale, gulf sturgeon, manatee and five kinds of sea turtles (leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley), as well as the waters, coastal wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges that many of these species call home. Continue reading

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