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Feds: move Trump drilling rules challenge out of California

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2019 By The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government wants a challenge to Trump administration rules for offshore drilling to be moved out of California.

The case should be heard in New Orleans or Washington, Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco, where the challenge was filed in June.

Environmental groups contend that rule changes announced in March will make oil and gas exploration and development off the Pacific, Atlantic, Alaska, and Gulf coasts much more dangerous.

Federal attorneys said the case's only connection to California is that one of the environmental groups that filed the complaint is based there.

They contend that the Eastern District of Louisiana, in New Orleans, would be the most logical place to hear arguments because 98% of all oil and gas production on the outer continental shelf comes from the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Gulf of Mexico region is the only one with any stake in many of the challenged revisions, which concern deepwater drilling equipment that is used only in the Gulf," the document said.  The area is also where the rule was primarily drafted, the attorneys wrote.

Since Washington is where the rule was approved, that would be the second choice, the attorneys said.

The arguments are made in a notice that the government plans to formally ask for the move on Nov. 21.

An attorney for environmental groups that filed the complaint said there is drilling off California and the Trump Administration plans to expand drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

"This rule affects all the country, all the coastlines," said Christopher Eaton of the environmental law firm Earthjustice.

He represents several national environmental groups as well as groups based in Louisiana and in North and South Carolina.

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