Ninth Circuit (Largely) Rejects Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission Challenge to Oil & Gas Exploration Permits

Here is the opinion in Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission v. EPA:


From the court’s syllabus:

The panel granted in part and denied in part a petition for review brought by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, challenging the Beaufort Permit issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System provisions of the Clean Water Act, authorizing the discharge of oil and gas exploration facilities of 13 waste streams into marine waters of the Beaufort Sea in accordance with conditions set forth in the Permit.

The panel granted the petition on one issue on which the EPA admitted error in the record, and remanded to the EPA for a determination regarding whether the discharge of noncontact cooling water (alone or in combination with other authorized discharges) into the Beaufort Sea will cause unreasonable degradation of the marine environment because
of the effect of such discharge on bowhead whales, including deflection from their migratory paths.

The panel denied the petition in all other respects because the EPA’s issuance of the Permit was otherwise supported by the record evidence, did not reflect a failure to consider an important respect of the problem, and was not otherwise arbitrary or capricious.