Royal Dutch Shell is suing 13 environmental organizations in an effort to clear the path for its Arctic gas and oil drilling projects.
Among the major organizations sued are: The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Ocean Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace, the National Audubon Society, and Oceana.
The most important language in the petition filed by Shell asks the US District Court to rule that federal regulators were legally sound last month when they gave the go ahead on Shell’s oil spill response plan for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Siberia.
The suit by Shell is a preemptive attempt at blocking legal action Shell expects from these organizations. Historically, the Sierra Club and the other companies have filed challenges to Shell’s regulatory authorizations in an effort to delay or stop Shell’s drilling operations. Essentially, this suit would require the companies named to file their appeals as soon as possible rather than having the usual amount of time available.
According to the New York Times, Marvin E. Odum, Shell’s president for the US, said the company had filed the suit with the goal of accelerating the judicial review of the plan that would normally not occur until the organizations had filed their protests.
Several of the organizations have claimed that this action doesn’t give them enough time to review Shell’s oil spill response plan and lessens the public’s opportunity to participate in the process.
David Pettit, head legal counsel for the Natural Resource Defense Council went further in a Dow Jones Newswire article. “It’s a case that doesn’t have substance under federal law,” said Pettit, “We will file a motion to dismiss and we expect to win quickly.”
Kelly op de Weegh, a spokeswoman for Shell, called the approach “very unique,” and characterized it as having never been done before, according to the LA Times.
To date Shell has already spent $4 billion on this project and has not yet started drilling.