Good News from the Artic?

Shell’s Arctic drilling set back by US court ruling

Terry Macalister, The Guardian

Thursday 23 January 2014 07.34 EST

Shell’s hopes of drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska this summer faced a serious setback when a US federal court ruled that the full range of environmental risks had not been assessed by the government.

The 9th circuit court of appeals ruled in favour of green groups and Native Alaskan tribes which want Shell and its partners to call off their exploration programme for fear of an oil spill.



Greenpeace said the court case was a “massive blow to Shell’s Arctic ambitions” and capped a miserable first few weeks in office for Shell’s new boss.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, added: “The court decision means the USA interior department has to go back to the drawing board before it can reissue any new licence to Shell. This is a massive blow to Shell’s Arctic ambitions. Shell had already lost the case for Arctic drilling in the court of public opinion – today they have lost the case in a court of law as well.”

Judges say Arctic offshore lease sale was flawed

By Dan Joling, Associated Press

January 22, 2014

A federal appeals court Wednesday ruled in favor of environmental groups that claimed the federal government conducted a flawed environmental review before selling $2.7 billion in petroleum leases off Alaska’s northwest coast in 2008.

A three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a split decision that the Minerals Management Service, now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, prepared an environmental assessment for a sale in the Chukchi Sea based on minimal development – just 1 billion barrels of oil.



“President Obama now has the chance to do right by the Arctic and the planet by keeping oil drilling out of the Chukchi Sea,” said Earthjustice attorney Eric Grafe, who represented the groups, in a prepared statement. “It makes no sense to open up the fragile, irreplaceable, and already melting Arctic Ocean to risky drilling for dirty oil that will only exacerbate climate change already wreaking havoc on the Arctic and elsewhere.

Federal court deals latest blow to Arctic oil drilling

By Joel Connelly, Seattle Post Intelligencer

Posted on January 22, 2014

The case was remanded back to U.S. District Judge Ralph Bestline in Alaska.  Bestline has already once before, in 2010, held up Arctic exploration because of flaws and inadequate evaluations of environmental risks.



Shell launched its Chukchi drilling in the summer of 2012.  Just about everything that could go wrong DID go wrong.

Drilling ships were late in arriving from the “lower 48.”  The spill-containment barge, being prepared in Bellingham, failed its tests.  The drilling ship Noble Discoverer lost its moorings and nearly went ashore on Unalaska Island in the Aleutians.

Last but not least, the conical drilling ship Kulluk – which had been re-equipped at great cost – broke loose from its moorings and ran aground on New Year’s Eve on an island in the Gulf of Alaska.

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