Organización de Ambientalistas Organizados v. Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
Jurisdiction: Federal Court of Mar del Plata N. 2
Side A: Organización de Ambientalistas Organizados (Ngo)
Side B: Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Government)
Core objectives: Whether the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development decision to approve the offshore exploration of fossil fuels must be halted and declared null and void for its impacts on the Southern Right Whale and climate change.
SummaryOn December 30, 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development published Resolution 436/2021 approving the implementation of an offshore seismic acquisition project submitted by the Norwegian company Equinor. This approval of offshore fossil fuel exploration resulted in several lawsuits seeking an injunction to halt the project and an order declaring the approval’s regulations null and void. Some of those lawsuits are, partially, grounded on climate concerns. Other relevant cases can be found here and here.
On February 11, 2022, the Federal Court of Mar del Plata ordered a halt to the fossil fuel exploration activities. The order does not make any mention of climate change concerns. Instead, the judge focuses on failures regarding procedural rights (participation and information) with explicit mention of the Escazú Agreement, lack of strategic environmental assessment, and possible risk to marine biodiversity. In the decision, the precautionary principle plays a key role. On February 15, 2022, the government filed an appeal to the injunction order. In its appeal, the government is also asking for the removal of the judge from the case. On February 18, 2022, a different judge (Federal Court of Mar del Plata N.4) allowed the appeal to proceed with suspensive effect. That means that the exploration activity can go ahead until the Federal Court of Appeal revises the injunction order.