A panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today rejected an appeal against the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s approval of Shell’s 2010 exploration plans for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
The court has found that in approving Shell’s plans MMS has met its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and that the agency had met the legal standard for the approval process.
“According to the petitioners, there are multiple deficiencies in the two environmental assessments prepared by the MMS, as well as deficiencies in both of Shell’s proposed exploration plans,” the judges said. “We have carefully reviewed the thousands of pages of record and considered each of the alleged deficiencies in context. Under our deferential standard of review, we conclude that, as to both exploration plans, the MMS has met its obligations under NEPA to take a ‘hard look at the consequences of its actions.’”
“I am delighted to hear of the recent decision by the 9th Circuit court. It once again demonstrates that Shell has submitted robust, safe plans for exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas,” Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska vice president, told Petroleum News following the court’s announcement. “It is important to keep in mind that we have several more hurdles to cross before our 2010 plans can be executed. In light of the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we are working hard to identify additional measures that could be incorporated into the program to make it even stronger.”
Editor’s note: See story in May 16 issue of Petroleum News, available online to subscribers on Friday, May 14 at www.PetroleumNews.com.