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Shell Wins Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

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Royal Dutch Shell Wins Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

Royal Dutch Shell was granted a restraining order against six Greenpeace activists who boarded the company’s vessel last week

By: MICHEAL KAUFMANPublished: Apr 14, 2015 at 11:22 am EST

A group of Greenpeace protesters have left the vessel carrying Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) oil rig, six days after they illegally climbed it to register their protest against offshore drilling in Arctic, the environmental group said in a statement on Saturday.

The decision to abandon the vessel was prompted by rough weather conditions, claims Greenpeace. The call was made only hours before a US District Court judge ruled in favor of Shell, when the company filed a legal complaint against the activists. A temporary restraining order has been granted for Greenpeace protesters to keep away from Shell’s drilling rigs and the vessel. They had climbed the vessel on April 6, when it was around 750 miles off the coast of Hawaii.

Shell had sued the protesters last week, citing safety concerns. A company spokesperson said the move was “extremely dangerous” in rough seas and endangered the protesters as well as crew members of the vessel. The activists have a right to voice their opinion but the tactics they employed were unlawful and unsafe, said the spokesperson. Although the activists had already left the vessel before court’s decision, the restraining order issued requires them to stay at least 1,000 meters away from the vessel.

The rig has been leased by Shell to be used for exploratory drilling activities in the Arctic in the summer drilling season, subject to regulatory approval. The Greenpeace activists strictly oppose Shell’s plans, deeming it highly risky on grounds of the risks it poses to the environment. Environmental groups claim that oil exploration companies may not be adequately equipped to handle a major oil spill in Arctic and the drilling site is in a remote location, far from the needed infrastructure to safely conduct exploration. Resources that may be needed in case of a spill, like Coast Guard bases and emergency equipment, are far from where the drilling is scheduled to take place.

Shell believes the Greenpeace organization is running a campaign against the company’s exploration. In a court filing last week, Shell said: “Greenpeace USA has now resumed its reckless behavior towards Shell.”

Greenpeace lawyers debated whether the federal district court in Alaska had jurisdiction over the case, as the acts in question happened in International waters, and not US soil. They also pointed out the First Amendment right of protesters to “observe, comment on and protest Shell’s activity.” The organization said it would be prepared to face “further legal arguments” on the next hearing scheduled for April 28.

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