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Letter to Interior Secretary Jewell Calls for Shell’s Arctic Drilling Approval to be Rescinded

Earthjustice Statement by Staff Attorney Holly Harris
Walruses in the Chukchi Sea. The Chukchi is home to a rich variety of marine life.
Sarah Sonsthagen / U.S. Geological Survey
June 23, 2015
Juneau, AK —

Today, Earthjustice submitted a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on behalf of 10 green groups to request that she reconsider Interior’s decision to conditionally approve Shell’s exploration plan to drill in the Arctic this summer and to deny Shell’s request for permission to adversely affect marine mammals and to obtain the final permits to drill.

The following is a statement by Earthjustice Staff Attorney Holly Harris regarding the letter:
“The walrus rules are in place to protect these remarkable animals from the damaging effects of offshore drilling and Shell knew those rules and, in fact commented on this very provision. The company nonetheless chose to ignore them when it submitted its plan to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Interior cannot allow Shell to flout the government’s own requirements for protecting Arctic wildlife. It is time to deny Shell’s request to drill for oil in the fragile Arctic Ocean. From the risk of oil spills and harming wildlife to exacerbating climate change, Shell’s reckless idea to drill for oil in Arctic waters just goes from bad to worse.”

The letter, sent on behalf of Alaska Wilderness League, Audubon Alaska, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, and Sierra Club, notes deficiencies in Shell’s drilling plan and permit applications and a lapse in the plans’ ability to correspond with U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations to protect the Pacific walrus. Groups have long contended that the Department of the Interior has a critical role to play in safeguarding our nation from the consequences of climate change, to protect our fragile Arctic Ocean, its wildlife and communities from an oil spill.