Various groups of plaintiffs challenged NOAA/NMFS’ issuance of Marine Mammal Protection Act Incidental Harassment Authorizations for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The plaintiffs’ challenges were filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs filed motions for preliminary injunctions against the Government. On August 26, 2019, the court entered an order denying all the preliminary injunction motions without prejudice to file again. The court dismissed the motions because the plaintiffs’ had not demonstrated imminent harm. In the court’s own words:
“The Motions for a Preliminary Injunction, and notice of joinder from the Intervenor Plaintiffs, were filed between February 20, 2019 and March 5, 2019. (Dkt. Nos. 124, 143, 146, 148.) Over five and a half months have now passed since the motions were filed. While the Organizational Plaintiffs argued in March that they could meet their burden to show that irreparable harm was ‘imminent’ as government officials ‘repeatedly stated that BOEM permits are imminent,’ (Dkt. No. 233 at 40) it is clear now, over five and half months later, that those statements were inaccurate. Without further information, the Court therefore cannot determine whether the permits are imminent, which is a necessary precondition for the alleged irreparable harm here, namely the proposed seismic testing of vast amounts of ocean waters from Delaware to Florida.”
This court order does not resolve the case. The court has also issued a scheduling order for summary judgment motions, which do not require imminent harm to succeed.