School navigation


Professor challenges federal endangered species protection in Gulf

July 06, 2010

  • Professor Dan Rohlf, clinical director of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center

Professor of Law Dan Rohlf commented in The New York Times on the failure of federal wildlife agencies to accurately estimate the impact endangered species would experience from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Times reports that in the years leading up to the Deepwater Horizon spill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service underestimated the risk that deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico posed to wildlife. The agency, tasked with protecting endangered species, agreed with the Minerals Management Service’s assessment that drilling posed little risk to wildlife, despite evidence to the contrary.

“Would people get on a plane if they knew it had a one in four chance of a major mechanical problem?” asked Rohlf, clinical director of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center and an expert on endangered species law and policy. “Federal wildlife agencies made conscious choices—under the guise of science—to allow offshore oil drilling with an identical risk of serious harm to endangered species.”

In an Associated Press report on the same subject, Rohlf argued that recently released documents reveal the Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by discounting the risks to wildlife.

Learn more:

The New York Times, July 5: Agency Agreed Wildlife Risk From Oil Was ‘Low’

Associated Press, July 6: Wildlife regulators found potential Gulf oil spills posed low risk to endangered species

Read more about Lewis & Clark law professors’ previous media appearances related to the Gulf oil spill.


Share this story on


Contact Us