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For Immediate Release, May 13, 2010

Contacts:  Caroline Cannon, Native Village of Point Hope, (907) 830-2727
George Edwardson, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, (907) 444-7240
Emilie Surrusco, Alaska Wilderness League, (202) 544-5205
Rebecca Noblin, Center for Biological Diversity, (907) 274-1110
Caitlin Leutwiler, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-3226 
Eric Grafe, Earthjustice, (907) 586-2751
Frank Ameduri, Oceana, (907) 586-8314
Andrew Hartsig, Ocean Conservancy, (907) 229-1690
Pam Miller, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, (907) 452-5021
Carole Holley, Pacific Environment, (907) 277-1029
Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5619

Despite Court's Decision, Groups Vow to Continue to Fight Shell's Arctic Drilling

ANCHORAGE, AlaskaAs toxic oil continues to gush uncontrollably from an exploratory well in the Gulf of Mexico, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today dismissed a challenge brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies to stop Shell Oil from drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic this summer. Also today, the Center and allies promised to continue the fight to stop Shell’s dangerous project from moving forward.

The court’s decision ignores a large body of evidence showing that the federal Minerals Management Service in the Department of Interior rubberstamped Shell’s drilling plan without conducting a proper environmental review of the possible consequences of drilling, including the possibility of a large oil spill such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the lawsuit was brought before the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the court did not consider lessons from the Gulf in making its decision.

Said Center Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin, “The court’s decision does not exempt Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from his duty to reevaluate Shell’s risky drilling plan in light of the disaster in the Gulf.”

Just after the court announced its decision, the coalition of 11 groups that challenged Shell’s drilling plan issued the following statement:

“We are very disappointed in today’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the court was evaluating a decision made before the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico happened. We believe that the new issues this incident has brought to light offer even more evidence that Shell must not proceed with plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas this summer. With 48 days to go before Shell is slated to move forward, we will continue to press our request to the Obama administration to re-evaluate its approval of the Shell drilling plans in light of the Gulf spill and to suspend drilling that we knew was risky even before the massive failure in the Gulf once again exposed that drilling is indeed a dirty and dangerous business. With limited capacity to respond to potential spills and icy, harsh conditions, the Arctic is no place to take our next drilling gamble, especially when there are still so many unknowns — in the Arctic and in the Gulf.”  

The 11 groups are the Center for Biological Diversity, the Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the Native Village of Point Hope, Oceana, the Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, the Sierra Club, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

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