A coalition of environmental groups and Alaska natives has filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. approval of Shell Oil’s plans to drill off the Alaska coast.
The lawsuit — led by Earthjustice, the Alaska Wilderness League, and the Natural Resource Defense Council — alleges that Shell’s plans to drill three exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas next year lack an adequate response in the case of an oil spill.
“Allowing Shell to drill when it has no credible plan to cleanup an oil spill in the Arctic’s icy waters, and instead simply assumes it can clean up 95 percent of oil spilled isn’t just unrealistic, it’s insulting and irresponsible,” said Holly Harris, an attorney for Earthjustice.
The coalition argues that a major spill could devastate polar bears, bowhead whales, and other marine species, and pose a threat to native communities that rely on the Arctic ecosystems. The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Shell officials responded that the chances of a spill during exploration are minimal and that response plans meet federal requirements.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.