Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)â€™s oil spill plans for drilling in Alaskaâ€™s Beaufort and Chukchi seas donâ€™t violate environmental laws, a federal judge in Anchorage ruled in rejecting a challenge by conservation groups.
The U.S. Interior Departmentâ€™s approval process wasnâ€™t flawed or based on erroneous assumptions and the approvals donâ€™t violate the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act or other environmental laws, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline ruled yesterday.
Shell halted operations off the Alaskan coast after accidents in 2012. Environmental groups including Greenpeace criticized the plans, saying oil spills above the Arctic circle would be almost impossible to clean up.
â€œThe first court in the country said these spill plans were sufficient, but this is only the beginning of the effort to define the obligations to address oil spill prevention and response, especially in remote, isolated areas like the Arctic Ocean,â€ Holly Harris, an attorney for Earthjustice, a public interest law organization representing conservation groups that sued, said yesterday in a phone interview.
Curtis Smith, a spokesman for The Hague-based Shell, didnâ€™t immediately respond to an e-mail yesterday seeking comment on the ruling.
The cases are Alaska Wilderness League v. Department of Interior, 12-00010, and Shell Gulf of Mexico v. Center for Biological Diversity, 12-00048, U.S. District Court, District of Alaska (Anchorage).
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