The partial government shutdown prompted a showdown Friday in South Carolina over seismic testing. A Federal judge issued an injunction which orders the Trump Administration to halt plans to issue permits for the testing right now
Earlier this week, the Administration announced it would bring back employees of BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Mangement) to process permits for the testing along the Atlantic Coast even as the shutdown continues.
Several groups in South Carolina that are suing over the permits (including the state of South Carolina) asked a judge to intervene. Friday morning he did. The injunction said no permits should be issued during the shutdown.
The Administration has argued it cannot file motions or legal briefs regarding the South Carolina lawsuit as there are not enough attorneys left in the Justice Department because of the shutdown. But plaintiffs seem to argue that if there are not enough attorneys to respond to a lawsuit to prevent the permits from being issued – why all of a sudden are there enough federal workers to process the permits?
Robert Kittle, a spokesman for South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson told us “It’s just common sense that if the federal government is shut down and doesn’t have the resources to perform most of its normal functions that it doesn’t have the resources to start this proposed seismic testing offshore.”
Kittle also said “We don’t think the federal government has done the proper environmental impact studies or the proper studies to look at the potential impact on our economy. Attorney General Wilson thinks it’s important to join the lawsuit because he doesn’t think that the federal government has gone through the proper steps.”
The ruling doesn’t mean the permits will not be issued, it just orders the Administration not to do until the shutdown is over.
“And then the legal process starts back up and hopefully the judge will rule for us and require the proper studies be done both on economic impact and environmental impact,” said Kittle.