The Wilderness Society has joined a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups in a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s decision to allow Shell to begin offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean next summer.
Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the Louisiana court decision has no effect on the administration's decision to suspend until 2011 new offshore drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
"We wish it did," said Julie Hasquet, a spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. "But we don't think it does."
One year after the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history, there are still many legislative, regulatory and other changes which need to be made before oil drilling in “frontier” offshore areas like deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean is allowed to proceed, according to The Wilderness Society.
The following statement from Lois Epstein, a licensed engineer and Arctic Program Director for the Wilderness Society, on Shell Oil’s decision not to pursue exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2011.
“We are very pleased that Shell has decided not to drill in the Arctic Ocean this upcoming summer. The federal government needs more time to improve its regulatory oversight, to understand the baseline ecology of the Arctic Ocean, and to improve oil spill cleanup strategies following the Deepwater Horizon spill.