Environmental group sues federal agencies for fracking-related documents

Earlier this week, the Center for Biological Diversity (Center) filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The Center alleges that Defendants failed to comply with its request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition, the Center argues that it believes Defendants have issued permits to allow fracking in the Gulf of Mexico without proper evaluation.

The Center alleges that it sent Defendants a FOIA request for its records concerning any hydraulic fracturing activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, the Center requested any information detailing the extent of fracking operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Defendants’ role in the permit approval process, and whether Defendants had engaged in any environmental analysis before approving the permits. Defendants notified the Center that they were reviewing the FOIA request; however, the Center alleges that Defendants did not comply with their obligations under FOIA.

The Center contends that Defendants’ failure to provide it with the requested information has not only harmed its interests but also the interests of the public-at-large. According to the Center, hydraulic fracturing should not be permitted in the Gulf of Mexico because it is a fragile ecosystem. If it is given the requested information, the Center argues that it will educate the public on the fracking operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The Center requests that the Court find that Defendants violated FOIA and order Defendants to respond to its FOIA request.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge (johnjerica.hodge@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.