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Fifth Circuit Decision Limits State and Local Governments’ Abilities to Regulate Offshore Drilling Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf

by J. Scott Miller
Morris Polich & Purdy LLP - Los Angeles Office

April 21, 2014

Previously published on April 1, 2014

A new Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision effectively limits the ability of states and local governments to regulate offshore drilling and mineral extraction operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). According to the Fifth Circuit, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred as the result of an “operation conducted on the outer Continental Shelf, which involved the exploration and production of minerals,” sufficient to confer federal jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. § 1349(b)(1).) As a result, the State of Louisiana cannot collect penalties from BP pursuant to state law for the pollution-related loss of aquatic life and wildlife as a result of the spill. In re Deepwater Horizon, 2014 WL 700065 (5th Cir. February 24, 2014.)


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