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Ctr. for Biological Diversity, Inc. v. BP Am. Prod. Co

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

January 9, 2013, Filed

No. 12-30136

Opinion

 [*417]  KING, Circuit Judge:

This appeal arises from the multi-district litigation spawned from the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the resulting massive oil spill that occurred at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico. Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity appeals from the district court's dismissal of its action brought under the citizen-suit provisions of the Clean Water Act ("CWA"), 33 U.S.C. § 1365(a)(1), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. § 9659(a), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know  [*418]  Act ("EPCRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 11046(a). The district court dismissed the suit for lack of standing, mootness, and failure to state a claim for  [**3] relief. We agree that most of the plaintiff's claims for relief have become moot because the Macondo well has been capped and sealed. We conclude that, at least on the current record, the EPCRA claim remains viable. We therefore AFFIRM IN PART and REVERSE IN PART the district court's judgment.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity ("the Center") is a non-profit environmental organization with over 40,000 members, including over 3,500 members living in the Gulf of Mexico region. Defendants BP, P.L.C. and its corporate subsidiaries BP America Production Co. and BP Exploration & Production, Inc. (collectively "BP") conduct exploration and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of those operations, BP leased the mobile offshore drilling unit known as Deepwater Horizon from Defendants Transocean, Ltd. and its subsidiary companies in order to drill the Macondo well, which is located on the sea floor at Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on Deepwater Horizon tragically killed eleven people and accompanied an oil spill that caused an environmental disaster of immense proportion. Millions of gallons of oil spewed from  [**4] the well site over the course of several months as the defendants and government authorities sought to stop it.

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704 F.3d 413 *; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 545 **; 2013 AMC 221; 43 ELR 20007; 76 ERC (BNA) 1017; 2013 WL 104928

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellant v. BP AMERICA PRODUCTION CO; BP EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION, INCORPORATED; BP, P.L.C.; TRANSOCEAN OFFSHORE DEEPWATER DRILLING, INCORPORATED; TRANSOCEAN HOLDINGS, L.L.C.; TRANSOCEAN DEEPWATER, INCORPORATED, Defendants-Appellees

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

CORE TERMS

district court, moot, notice, civil penalty, injunctive relief, pollutants, Bundle, complaints, judicial notice, site, final judgment, discharges, killed, hazardous substance, oil, injunction, authorities, violations, ongoing, environmental, remediation, spill, oil spill, defendants', offshore, cleanup, redress, emergency, parties, dead

Environmental Law, Clean Water Act, Enforcement, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Responses, Motions to Dismiss, Justiciability, Mootness, Standing, Coverage & Definitions, Citizen Suits, Business & Corporate Compliance, Hazardous Wastes & Toxic Substances, Notification of Existence of Hazardous Substances, Community Right to Know & Emergency Planning, CERCLA & Superfund, Recordkeeping & Reporting, Evidence, Judicial Notice, Adjudicative Facts, Abuse of Discretion, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Elements, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Jurisdiction, Remedies, Injunctions, Appellate Jurisdiction, Final Judgment Rule, Judgments, Entry of Judgments, Multiple Claims & Parties, Particular Parties, Appellate Briefs, Pretrial Matters, Conferences, Case Management