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Lawsuit launched against government over endangered whale protection

The Gulf of Mexico

Oil and gas companies, including Chevron and an industry trade group, have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration.

The lawsuit, which includes the state of Louisiana, challenges the administration's decision to withdraw certain areas from an upcoming oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

This decision was made to safeguard the endangered Rice's whale.

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The conflict arises as the Biden administration had previously paused federal drilling auctions as a part of its climate change initiatives.

However, the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a year old, mandates the Gulf of Mexico lease sale to proceed as planned next month.

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The lawsuit was initiated after the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finalized the lease sale plans, which now include new restrictions aimed at protecting the Rice's whale.

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As a result of these restrictions, over 6 million acres that were initially set to be offered at the auction have been removed.

Additionally, vessel operators are now required to be on the lookout for these whales and adhere to speed limits within the whale's habitat.

Lawsuits from The American Petroleum Institute

In the lawsuit, the American Petroleum Institute contends these changes are unwarranted and illegal.

The modifications are a result of an agreement between federal agencies and environmental groups who had previously sued in 2020, claiming that the government did not provide sufficient protection for the whales.

The upcoming Lease Sale 261 is scheduled for September 27 and will offer around 67 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

American Petroleum Institute Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers said:"Today we're taking steps to challenge the Department of the Interior's unjustified actions to further restrict American energy access in the Gulf of Mexico."

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