Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Native Village Of Point Hope et al. v. DOI/BOEM

May 25: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-72943. On Petition for Review of a Final Agency Action of the Department of Interior (DOI), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Other major environmental organizations who were part of the action included: Center For Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife; Natural Resources Defense Council; National Audubon Society and several others.
    As explained by the Appeals Court, "In these expedited petitions for review, we consider the allegations of Native Village of Point Hope et al. and Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (collectively, 'petitioners') that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) failed to discharge its obligations under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) in approving Shell Offshore Inc.'s plan for exploratory oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 43 U.S.C. § 1349(c), and we deny the petitions."
    In a footnote, the Appeals Court also said, "In a separate memorandum disposition filed concurrently with this opinion, we deny expedited petitions challenging BOEM's decision to approve an exploration plan for Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean's Chukchi Sea. Because of the expedited nature of this case, no motions to stay the mandate will be granted. Petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc may be filed with respect to this opinion."
    In part, the Appeals Court ruled, "BOEM concluded that Shell's exploration plan complied with applicable requirements and would not cause serious harm or damage to the environment, but nevertheless required Shell to provide further documentation of its well-capping stack and containment system, as well as to meet certain additional conditions. This interpretation by BOEM of its own regulations is controlling unless plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. Auer, 519 U.S. at 461. Further, the conditions at issue here, which require Shell to seek additional authorizations before commencing drilling, are consistent with the statutory scheme's requirement that a leaseholder with an approved exploration plan obtain a permit to drill and other approvals that 'conform to the activities described in detail in [the] approved [exploration plan]' before conducting exploration activities. 30 C.F.R. § 550.281; see also 43 U.S.C. § 1340(d). For these reasons, petitioners' argument that BOEM impermissibly conditioned its approval is without merit."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Energy/OCS, #CA9]
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