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Soundings Archive

Court Upholds Shell and BP Seismic Permits for Chukchi and Beaufort Seas
On July 2, 2008, the United States District Court for Alaska rejected NGO challenges to federal seismic permits issued to Shell Offshore and BP Exploration. The permits were issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Minerals Management Service. They authorize Shell and BP to perform seismic oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

The NGO plaintiffs, which include the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council , made a number of legal and factual arguments against the permits, claiming in general that the seismic operations in question would harm whales and other marine mammals.

The court rejected all their arguments, holding that "The court's only role here is to determine if the agency action was 'arbitrary and capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law.' For the foregoing reasons, the court finds no fault with the agency action in this instance."

On July 9, 2008, the court ordered the plaintiffs to pay the defendants' costs.

At last report, the NGOs are appealing the district court's decision.

  • Click here to read court's decision
  • Click here to read court order that plaintiffs pay defendants, costs

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