SAN FRANCISCO – The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Shell’s oil spill response plan for drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska’s Arctic coast is legal.
The court panel concluded that the bureau’s approval of the plans was a nondiscretionary act that did not trigger a requirement for interagency consultation under the Endangered Species Act.
The coalition of environmental groups had asserted that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the EPA failed to consult with certain other agencies before taking the action.
Regulators already have approved updates to Shell’s spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea. Shell hopes to drill as soon as July.