Ctr. for Sustainable Econ. v. Jewell, No. 12-1431 (D.C. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) extends roughly 200 miles into the ocean to the limit of U.S. international-law jurisdiction. Billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas lie beneath the OCS. Concerns about ecological vulnerability and potential harm to coastal tourism led to moratoriums on OCS drilling from 1982 until they were partially lifted in 2009. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster renewed debate about the safety of offshore drilling, but energy companies remain interested in offshore drilling. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) created a framework for exploration and extraction of OCS oil and gas deposits. It requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a program every five years with a schedule of proposed leases for OCS resource exploration and development; the program must balance competing economic, social, and environmental values, 43 U.S.C. 1344. CSE challenged the latest leasing program as failing to comply with Section 18(a), which governs the balancing of competing economic, social, and environmental values; quantifying and assessing environmental and ecological impact; and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits and costs between OCS regions and stakeholders. CSE claimed that the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement violated National Environmental Policy Act procedural requirements by using a biased analytic methodology and providing inadequate opportunities for public comment. The D.C. Circuit denied CSE’s petition. While CSE had associational standing to petition for review, its NEPA claims are unripe; two other challenges were forfeited and remaining challenges failed on their merits.