Taylor Energy is taking measures to protect its rights and the environment concerning the response to the MC-20 Incident. In an effort to head off any irresponsible action that could cause considerable environmental damage, and to defend its right to due process following the government’s arbitrary decision to turn its back on a decade’s worth of consensus science, in late 2018, Taylor Energy brought legal action against the Coast Guard and the private contracting firm hired by the Coast Guard to carry out potentially environmentally hazardous actions at the MC-20 site. Taylor Energy also has a longstanding breach of contract litigation pending against the Department of the Interior related to Taylor Energy’s funds being withheld in trust. None of these lawsuits seek to relieve Taylor Energy from its obligations to respond to the MC-20 Incident. Taylor Energy has taken and will continue to take all responsible, science-driven measures to address MC-20.
This lawsuit seeks the Court’s review and setting aside of final agency action, Administrative Order No. 19-001 (“Admin. Order”), which was taken by the Coast Guard in an abrupt reversal of course on its longstanding prior position based predominantly on an unverified theory that contradicts the well-established scientific facts that underlay the Unified Command’s prior response actions at the MC-20 site. The Coast Guard’s recent actions ignored a decade’s worth of comprehensive and consensus scientific studies conducted for the Unified Command. Despite grounding the Admin. Order on this new, unverified theory, the Coast Guard has withheld the underlying data from Taylor Energy, rejecting Taylor Energy’s repeated requests for its disclosure. The Coast Guard’s actions abruptly departed from the repeated scientific conclusions in the Unified Command’s record in response to adverse publicity. In the suit, Taylor Energy seeks an order vacating, holding unlawful and setting aside the Admin. Order, and all actions, findings and conclusions made following its issuance, all as being in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and as being arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act.
This lawsuit concerns activities currently being performed and to be performed by Couvillion at the request of the Coast Guard’s current Federal On-Scene Coordinator, including Couvillion’s design, construction and installation of a subsea “Rapid Response” containment system that is to be attached to and fully supported by Taylor Energy’s downed platform jacket, which is partially buried and lies on the seabed in federal waters adjacent to the State of Louisiana in approximately 475 feet of water at the MC-20 site. Due to concerns about sediment stability in the area and red flags regarding Couvillion’s lack of experience and knowledge of the MC-20 record, Taylor Energy placed Couvillion on notice that it intends to hold Couvillion responsible for any damages, environmental or otherwise, that might arise out of Couvillion’s reckless and grossly negligent activities at the MC-20 site. Taylor Energy filed the suit because it fears that Couvillion’s lack of professional qualifications and unfamiliarity with the site and the longstanding, comprehensive scientific record have the potential to cause catastrophic environmental damage. In the suit, Taylor Energy seeks to prevent Couvillion’s unauthorized use of Taylor Energy’s property and to protect itself in the event that adverse environmental consequences result from Couvillion’s actions.
Taylor Energy filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Department of the Interior in January of 2016. The lawsuit is a straightforward contract dispute and does not seek to relieve Taylor Energy of its legal obligations to respond to the MC-20 incident.
In 2008, Taylor Energy entered into a contract with the government pursuant to which Taylor Energy funded a trust account with $666,280,000 to secure performance of a series of specific well and facility Decommissioning obligations at MC-20. Taylor Energy filed the suit to seek the return of its funds that remain in the trust account- a sum of approximately $432 million.
The lawsuit asserts that, despite Taylor Energy’s completion of the last decommissioning obligation the government authorized it to undertake under the contract in July of 2011, the government, in 2015, informed Taylor Energy that its position is that the term of the contract is indefinite and that Taylor Energy’s performance of the remaining decommissioning obligations under the contract will occur, if at all, only at some uncertain and indeterminable future date. The government has also informed Taylor Energy that it intends to withhold indefinitely all of Taylor Energy’s funds that remain in the trust account. Under the applicable law, contracts must be performed in good faith and within a reasonable time. By failing to allow Taylor Energy’s performance of the remaining decommissioning obligations under the contract within a reasonable time while withholding Taylor Energy’s funds in trust, the government breached the contract. The lawsuit further asserts that it is legally impossible for Taylor Energy to perform the remaining decommissioning obligations under the contract because to do so would violate statutory and regulatory mandates that prohibit performance of decommissioning activities that may cause undue or serious environmental harm.