In the quest for new and more environmentally acceptable energy sources, the Bush administration does the only thing one could reasonably expect:  pursuing a course that rewards the oil industry with additional oil/gas drilling leases.  (This, despite the federal government’s spotty history of collecting payments due upon prior leases.)

This has given rise to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity directed at the legality of such policy.

ENS link

WASHINGTON, DC, July 5, 2007 (ENS) – A court challenge to the Bush administration’s nationwide plan governing the sale of all offshore oil and gas leases in federal waters over the next five years is facing a legal challenge from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, raises claims under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

The relevant federal agency, the Minerals Management Service, approved the lease plan only last week.  Some 21 lease sales are currently scheduled.

The lawsuit alleges that even though the leasing program will result in more greenhouse gas emissions than virtually any other single federal approval, the administration did not study the environmental consequences of emissions from the program.

“This plan is the culmination of the Cheney energy policy,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It will further our national addiction to fossil fuels, contribute to global warming, and at the same time directly despoil the habitat of polar bears and other imperiled wildlife.”

Interestingly enough, the MMS posting about the comment period for the draft impact statement on leasing policy in the Gulf of New Mexico does not click through to a place where one might actually leave comments.  Instead, after clicking, one is taken to a section setting forth details about the agency’s hurricane policies.  Surely this wasn’t deliberate.  (cough, cough.)  Instead, one must slog through sections of the Federal Register.

Best quote:

“Short of sending Dick Cheney to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the administration could not have come up with a more environmentally destructive plan for endangered marine mammals,” said Brendan Cummings, ocean program director of the Center. “Yet the administration did not even analyze, much less attempt to avoid, the impacts of oil development on endangered wildlife.”

Sounds about right.

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