Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Alaska Wilderness v. Kempthorne

Mar 6: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case Nos. 07-71457, 07-71989, & 07-72183. In a brief order, the Appeals Court said, "The opinion and dissent filed on November 20, 2008, and published at 548 F.3d 815 (9th Cir. 2008), are hereby vacated and withdrawn [See WIMS 11/20/08]. Respondents’ petition for rehearing and suggestion for rehearing en banc is denied as moot. All pending motions to file amicus briefs in support of rehearing are likewise denied as moot. The opinion vacated and withdrawn will be replaced by a new opinion. Our denial of the petition for rehearing with suggestion for rehearing en banc is made without prejudice to any party who may wish to file a petition for rehearing or petition for rehearing en banc with regard to the new opinion."

The case involved six organizations that support environmental conservation, indigenous communities, and wildlife populations of Northern Alaska. They challenged the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) approval of an exploration plan submitted by Shell Offshore Inc. (Shell). Shell seeks to drill multiple offshore exploratory oil wells over a three-year period in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. In the November 20, split 2-1 decision the Appeals Court, vacated the Agency’s approval of Shell’s exploration plan, and remanded the case so that MMS can conduct the “hard look” analysis required by NEPA. The Appeals Court said MMS must prepare a revised EA "or, as necessary, an EIS."

Access the Order (
click here).