Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, April 2, 2019

Contact: Steve Jones, (415) 305-3866,

Court Hearing in Houston to Challenge Trump EPA's Permit for Dumping Drilling, Fracking Waste Into Gulf

Administration Permitted Oil Companies' Wastewater Without Studying Risks

HOUSTON— Arguments will be heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s approval of a permit allowing oil companies to dump wastewater from offshore drilling and fracking into the Gulf of Mexico. The Center for Biological Diversity sued last year because the permits were issued without evaluating the dangers to marine species, water quality and the environment.

The Clean Water Act permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 allows drilling companies to dump unlimited amounts of waste fluid, including toxic chemicals used in fracking, into federal Gulf waters off Texas and Louisiana. Federal records show more than 75 billion gallons of drilling wastewater were dumped into the Gulf in 2014.

“Letting oil companies dump toxic fracking waste into the Gulf without ever studying the impact is reckless and illegal. The Trump administration can’t keep ignoring federal law in their giveaways to the oil industry,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s lead attorney in the case. “Marine life and coastal communities are being threatened by this hazardous water pollution and need the courts to protect them.”

What: Hearing before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Center for Biological Diversity, et al, v. U.S. EPA, et al. (Case No. 18-60102)

When: Wednesday, April 3, at 9 a.m.

Where: Courtroom 11-D, Bob Casey Federal Building, 515 Rusk Street, Houston, TX

Who: Lead attorney Kristen Monsell is representing plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf (formerly Gulf Restoration Network) and Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

The Center’s lawsuit notes that the EPA’s issuance of the permit failed to comply with federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The suit aims to force the agency to prohibit the dumping of fracking chemicals and other dangerous waste fluids into the Gulf unless, and until, the agency adequately studies and discloses the risks.

At least 10 chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking could kill or harm a broad variety of ocean species, including marine mammals and fish, Center scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.

Discharging fracking chemicals into the Gulf raises grave ecological concerns because the Gulf provides important habitat for whales, sea turtles and fish — as well as being federally designated critical habitat for imperiled loggerhead sea turtles. Dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering the lingering destructive effects of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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