Offshore Oil Leases in America's Arctic Rejected by U.S. Court

Court Decision Paves the Way for Obama Administration to Reconsider Drilling in Wildlife-Rich Arctic Waters

Spectacled Eider
usfws

Spectacled Eider

Published: Jan 22, 2014
NEW YORK - 
Today, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Department of the Interior violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups made up of the following: the Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and World Wildlife Fund. Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, represented the groups.

Statement from Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold:

"We don't know nearly enough about the Chukchi Sea ecosystems - let alone about how to clean up an oil spill in ice-locked seas - to let international corporations go around poking holes in the seafloor," said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. "We do know that the Arctic Ocean is crucial for marine birds and mammals, holding globally significant feeding and resting areas for dozens of species, and they need to be protected. This decision gives the White House a chance to reconsider drilling in the Chukchi."

Joint Statement from Plaintiffs

"Today's ruling is a victory for the Arctic Ocean. The government has no business offering oil companies leases in the Chukchi Sea. The area is home to iconic species such as polar bear, bowhead whales, and walrus and to a vibrant indigenous subsistence culture. Drilling for oil puts at risk the region's wildlife and people, and it takes us off the path toward a clean energy future.

For the second time, a court has found that the government ignored basic legal protections for our ocean resources in deciding to open the Chukchi Sea to offshore oil leasing. The Obama administration must now take seriously its obligation to re-think whether to allow risky industrial activities in the Chukchi Sea. As Shell's problems have clearly demonstrated, companies are not ready to drill in the Arctic Ocean."

###
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Press Contacts

David J. Ringer
Media Relations Director -
Main Office
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
dringer@audubon.org
212-979-3062
Beth Peluso
Communications Manager - Communications
Audubon Alaska
441 West Fifth Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
bpeluso@audubon.org
907-276-7034