It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether the restriction highlighted by environmentalists opposed to Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign would derail the company’s plans, but it could be a major stumbling block.
The lawsuit argues that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave a rushed, cursory review to Shell’s Chukchi Sea exploratory plan, in the process overlooking the risks from potential spills and increased drilling in the region.
A 2008 government sale of Arctic drilling leases to Shell and other companies is set to face fresh scrutiny in the federal courts, with a dozen environmental and Alaskan groups preparing to file a new challenge to the auction.
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