Suit aims to block Shell's Alaska drilling

Native groups fighting Shell’s plans to drill off the North Slope of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea next summer have been joined by a number of environmental groups in their fight, reports AP.
On Tuesday the groups filed suit against the Minerals Management Service for approving Shell’s plan to drill three exploratory wells, claiming not enough analysis was done on possible impacts:

Lily Tuzroyluke, executive director of the Native Village of Point Hope, an Inupiat Eskimo community on the shore of the Chukchi Sea, said the ocean is her people’s garden.
“We rely on it for our food and our culture,” she said in a statement. “MMS’ decision to allow Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean next summer recklessly endangers the traditional subsistence way of life we have sustained for thousands of years.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said MMS was thorough in its technical and environmental evaluation.
“Shell has demonstrated its ability to operate in the Arctic in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said in an e-mail. “We fully expect MMS to be successful in defending its approval.”
He said Shell has gone to great lengths to minimize the impact of its drilling program, including a voluntary shutdown during the fall subsistence whaling harvest by the villages of Nuiqsut and Kaktovik, installing best available discharge technology and reducing the number of wells.
“These steps were taken after considering direct feedback from North Slope stakeholders,” he said.

In a statement, Oceana, one of the groups in the suit, said the Obama administration needs to “do right” by the communities:

“Some basic science still needs to be done in the Arctic to understand whether drilling can happen safely and, if so, what precautions are needed to protect Arctic ecosystems and communities,” said Dr. Chris Krenz, Arctic Project Manager for Oceana. “With the Arctic Fishery Management Plan and National Ocean Policy Task Force, the government has shown us that it can do this the right way. We must let science guide our decisions about whether and how drilling can occur in a changing Arctic Ocean.”

SHOW MORE