Trump administration facing lawsuit for allowing fracking companies to dump waste in Gulf of Mexico

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
A boat works to collect oil that has leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico: Getty

Donald Trump's administration is facing a lawsuit for permitting oil companies to dump fracking waste into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a formal notice of intent against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arguing the practice endangers sea turtles, whales and other marine life.

It comes just months after the EPA finalised a Clean Water Act that allows oil companies to offload unlimited amounts of waste into the ocean basin.

“The Trump administration is letting the oil industry turn our oceans into toxic-waste dumps. The EPA's supposed to protect water quality, not help pollute the Gulf,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Centre for Biological Diversity in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “It's time for the courts to remind this agency that its mission is to safeguard the environment and public health.”

The CBD argues the practice was approved without properly evaluating the risks to already imperilled species native to the Gulf. They believe it is in direct violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

​Federal waters off Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi host the largest concentration of offshore oil and gas drilling activities in the country, according to the CBD.

Previous records requests revealed that oil companies dumped more than 75 billion gallons of wastewater into these waters in 2014 alone.

In October, Mr Trump unveiled plans to sell off 73 million acres of water in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration.

The US Interior Department released a statement saying it would offer offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for development, scheduled for March 2018.

"Only the courts can stop Trump’s assault on our oceans,” Ms Monsell said. “Oil-industry pollution was already a problem in the Gulf, but this administration isn’t even trying to protect wildlife from fracking chemicals. We need to fight back on behalf of marine wildlife.”

​After 60 days, the centre will be able to launch formal proceedings against the federal government to comply with the Endangered Species Act.