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Alaska Coastal Oil Drilling Challenge Revived by U.S. Court

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 09.31.18Alaskan coastal drilling by oil companies including ConocoPhillips (COP:US) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) may be further delayed after a U.S. court revived conservation group claims that the government acted illegally in opening almost 30 million acres on the continental shelf to energy exploration.

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By Karen Gullo January 22, 2014

Alaskan coastal drilling by oil companies including ConocoPhillips (COP:US) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) may be further delayed after a U.S. court revived conservation group claims that the government acted illegally in opening almost 30 million acres on the continental shelf to energy exploration.

Sierra Club and other organizations sued the government after the $2.6 billion sale of development leases for the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska in 2008, saying the amount of oil from the leases was far higher than the 1 billion barrels the U.S. Interior Department had estimated in an an environmental review.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today concluded the estimate was “chosen arbitrarily” and meant that the Interior Department “based its decision on inadequate information about the amount of oil to be produced pursuant to the lease sale.” The decision reverses a judge’s 2012 ruling dismissing the lawsuit.

“The agency is going to have to revise or supplement its analysis of the lease sale,” Erik Grafe, an Earthjustice attorney who argued the case, said in a phone interview. “We think the agency shouldn’t allow any drilling on this basis.”

Marjorie Weisskohl, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, and Kelly op de Weegh, a spokeswoman for The Hague-based Shell, didn’t immediately respond to voice-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.

Bush Administration

The conservation groups said in their complaint that the Bush administration’s decision to open the Chukchi Sea to oil and gas exploration violated the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.

The U.S., saying that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management already had analyzed the environmental impact at the behest of a federal judge in Alaska, contended that supplemental environmental impact statements had adequately addressed the impact of drilling on whales and other species as well as the generation of greenhouse gases.

ConocoPhillips, based in Houston, and Shell’s Gulf of Mexico unit joined the case on the side of the federal government.

The case is Native Village of Point Hope v. Jewell, 12-35287, U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in federal court in San Francisco at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at [email protected]

SOURCE

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

1 Comment on “Alaska Coastal Oil Drilling Challenge Revived by U.S. Court”

  1. #1 nate
    on Jan 28th, 2014 at 05:33

    So we have courts in San Francisco deciding whether or not America can drill in the Arctic Ocean. Well let’s see what the Russian government does when they start drilling or better yet the Chinese. America has the highest standards when it comes to drilling on land or offshore. I bet that bulldozer uses solar power to haul in one of the 75 or hundred Bowhead whales that are killed every year. The snow machines that are driven in Alaska are made of hemp and run off water. Im sure if Russia still owned Alaska there wouldn’t be any uproar in regards to drilling. This is America… Alaska pays out dividends to all Alaskans regardless if their Native or not. We can always start pressing the U.S. government to take away all aid to Alaska. I’m sure my hard earned money goes up there so people don’t have to work. We’ll that’s all I have to say. Have a nice day. Drill America

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