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Shell’s Oil Spill Response Plans

Case Number # 2106

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas support thriving, diverse ecosystems that teem with life, including bowhead whales, polar bears, walrus, seals and waterfowl.
Chukchi Sea / Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Earthjustice is representing several clients to challenge the federal government’s approval of Shell Oil’s oil spill response plans for the Arctic Ocean. Earthjustice brought the challenge in the Alaska District Court in July 2012. The lawsuit focuses on two spill plans—the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas spill plans—but ultimately it addresses requirements that apply nationwide.
 
The case challenges the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s determination that the spill plans satisfy the statutory standard to prove that Shell is ready to cleanup a “worst case” oil spill to the “maximum extent practicable” in “adverse weather conditions.”
 
The case also challenges the agency’s refusal to conduct any NEPA environmental review or engage in ESA consultation before approving the plans to obtain a basic understanding of the consequences of the spill response choices Shell made. For example, the agency should have considered the effects of Shell’s proposal to apply chemical dispersants in the Arctic Ocean, including threats to fish, birds, and marine mammals, among them the endangered bowhead whale.
 
Of all the places Earthjustice works to protect, few are as iconic and misunderstood as the Arctic Ocean. The Beaufort and Chukchi seas support thriving, diverse ecosystems that teem with life, including bowhead whales, polar bears, walrus, seals and waterfowl. 

Press Releases

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Federal agency allowed to ignore NEPA and ESA
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Obama administration should now suspend all permitting and further activities related to Arctic drilling
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Oil and ice don’t mix. Shell's inadequate oil spill response plans put the Arctic at risk