Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obama oil drilling in Alaska opposed

Alaskan Natives and environmental groups file federal lawsuit to halt Obama administration's approval of oil drilling in the Arctic

Point Hope, environmental groups challenge Chukchi Sea drilling
APPEAL: Natives fear oil company will be careless, harm sea life.

The Associated Press

A North Slope village united Wednesday with some of the heaviest hitters in the environmental community to challenge a plan by Shell Oil to drill off Northwest Alaska this summer.
REDOIL and the village are joined by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, as well as several other environmental groups.
The legal challenge to Shell's approved drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Groups recently filed a similar challenge to Shell's plan for exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northeast coastline.
"They have never demonstrated the ability to clean up oil in the Arctic Ocean," said Robert Thompson, chairman of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (RED OIL), a Native group that with the village of Point Hope hopes to stop Shell.
REDOIL and the village are joined by The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, as well as several other environmental groups.
"Our culture is based on hunting and we see major species disappearing right before our eyes," he said. "What would the potential pollution do to the whales?"
Oceana, one of the groups requesting the review, said Shell proposes to bring icebreakers, a drill rig and other support vessels and aircraft to the Chukchi, an area already challenged by the impacts of climate change and the loss of sea ice.
"We all know ... that the polar cap is melting. No scientist in the world challenges that," said Jim Ayers, vice president of Oceana. "What is the potential impact of a spill in these sensitive areas?"

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