Point Hope, environmental groups challenge Chukchi Sea drilling

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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.

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.

The focus of Wednesday's request is the Chukchi exploration plan, approved by the federal Minerals Management Service last month for a Shell subsidiary. The groups allege that the plan doesn't comply with federal environmental laws, relies on outdated science and fails to adequately evaluate the potential impact of a major oil spill.

…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.