The US Government is facing a legal challenge from environmental groups for expanding Gulf of Mexico drilling by 78 million acres.

It comes at a time when the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is about to conduct another lease sale.

The suit has been filed by Earthjustice on behalf of multiple groups in the federal district court in Washington DC. It alleges that the permit to expand offshore drilling in the region poses significant risks to the environment, marine life, and people.

The lawsuit challenges the upcoming lease sale, as well as the round in March, that involved 50% more acres sold compared to the sale in August 2017.

“The Trump administration is holding up Obama’s policies with one hand to claim the environment and worker safety won’t be compromised, while slashing those policies with the other.”

Furthermore, it challenges BOEM’s analyses of the sales’ environmental effects claiming that they are based on erroneous assumptions of the safety regulations as well as applicable royalty rates on the leases.

In the lawsuit, Earthjustice also stated that multiple analyses were based on the policies of the previous US administration, most of which are being revoked by the current government.

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BOEM was also charged for being underestimated the environmental impact of each lease sale.

Earthjustice attorney Chris Eaton said: “With these massive lease sales in the Gulf, the Trump administration is holding up President Obama’s policies with one hand to claim the environment and worker safety won’t be compromised, while slashing those same policies with the other hand and aggressively attempting to expand drilling.”

This is the second lawsuit filed by Earthjustice in the last one month challenging offshore Gulf of Mexico drilling.