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Tue Jul 10, 2012, 06:33 PM

Conservationists sue over Arctic spill plans.


JUNEAU -- A coalition of conservation groups sued the federal government Tuesday over its approval of oil spill response plans for an Arctic Ocean drilling program.

The lawsuit does not seek to block Shell Oil from beginning to drill this summer as planned, and an attorney for Oceana, one of the groups suing, said it's unlikely the case will be resolved in a time frame that could affect drilling this year. However, the case could prevent drilling in future seasons if the coalition succeeds in getting the approvals set aside, attorney Michael LeVine said.


LeVine said the coalition's work has been geared toward protecting the Arctic Ocean, not stopping Shell, and it wants to make sure the government upholds the law when approving oil spill response plans because more drilling proposals are expected.

Heavier-than-normal sea ice looks to push the expected start of drilling from mid-July to the first week of August, Smith said. Shell also is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine the proper classification for its oil spill containment barge. Smith said he expects that issue to be resolved soon, and said it shouldn't further delay drilling plans.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2012/07/10/2537466/conservationists-sue-over-arctic.html#storylink=cpy

I think drilling offshore of Alaska's Arctic is insane, but if they insist on doing it, we should at least have very stringent plans in place for clean-up. It's inevitable that something is going to go wrong up there given the unpredictable and severe weather conditions, high winds, ice chunks, etc. With such a fragile biological environment, and with the people of that part of Alaska depending on the ocean for subsistence, extreme precautions should be in place.

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