Federal appeals court affirms ruling in Arctic offshore drilling suit

Associated Press

Federal appeals court affirms ruling in Arctic offshore drilling suit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal appeals court panel is siding with a lower court that ruled federal officials did not act unlawfully when they approved two oil spill response plans created by Royal Dutch Shell PLC for oil leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska's coast.

The decision Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the oil spill response plans approved were not arbitrary, capricious or unlawful.

Environmental groups who sued in 2012 argued the approvals violated Clean Water Act standards and the Endangered Species Act.

The government countered that the groups' claims were based, in part, on a misreading of the laws and Shell's response plans.

Oceana attorney Michael LeVine said after Thursday's ruling that if Shell's plans satisfy the law, "then the law is broken."

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

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