Defenders of Wildlife, et al v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Managem, et al, No. 11-12598 (11th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The issue before the Eleventh Circuit concerned a challenge to an exploratory drilling plan under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OSCLA). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the Shell Exploration Plan S-7444 (Shell EP) to conduct drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Plan covered ten exploratory wells on offshore Alabama leases in the central Gulf. This case was a consolidated appeal in which Petitioners the Defenders of Wildlife, the Gulf Restoration Network and others filed comments on the Shell EP, participated in the ancillary administrative proceedings, and then filed a petition with the Court for review. The only issues for the Court's review were whether the Shell EP violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After review of the parties' briefs and the record below, the Court denied the petition for review, finding the BOEM's decision to approve the Shell EP was not arbitrary or capricious and instead, "reflected the agency's balance of environmental concerns with the expeditious and orderly exploration of resources in the Gulf of Mexico."