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Center for Biological Diversity:
Arctic Oil Development

Alaska Dispatch News, November 12, 2014

9th Circuit dismisses Shell's pre-emptive lawsuit against environmentalists
By Yereth Rosen

A federal appeals court on Wednesday threw out a Royal Dutch Shell lawsuit that was intended to inoculate the company’s oil-spill plans from challenges by environmentalists.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Shell’s 2012 lawsuit against numerous environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented a “novel legal strategy” but violated the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit, filed before Shell started its mishap-laden 2012 Arctic drilling season, had sought to have the courts validate the Bureau of Environmental Safety and Enforcement’s approval of Shell’s oil-spill plans -- essentially neutralizing any possible legal challenge against BSEE that the environmental groups would file under the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The environmental groups were ‘aggrieved’ by the approval of Shell’s oil spill response plans, and the Bureau is the federal agency responsible for their approval,” the appeals court said. “Because its plans were approved, Shell was not ‘aggrieved’ by the Bureau’s actions. Moreover, since Shell is not a federal agency, it cannot possibly have any legal obligations under the APA to the environmental groups.”

A representative of one of the environmental groups sued by the Shell said the lawsuit was part of a series of mistakes made by the company.

“Shell’s lawsuit seemed like a desperate attempt to circumvent clear constitutional protections and intimidate us. As today's decision shows, those tactics will not work,” said Michael LeVine, senior Pacific counsel for Oceana. “Shell wasted time, money, and energy pursuing a fruitless court challenge. The company's poor decisions that led to this case are emblematic of broader problems that have led to Shell's failed efforts to pursue exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.”


© 2014 Alaska Dispatch Publishing.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton