A federal appeals court rejected an attempt by Royal Dutch Shell to preemptively strike down potential legal challenges against its U.S. Arctic drilling campaign Monday.
The suit, filed in 2012 before the company’s troubled 2012 drilling season in Alaska’s North Slope, asked the courts to validate the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s approval of Shell’s oil spill plans.
Shell hoped that court validation of itsplan would prevent challenges to the BSEE’s approval by environmentalist groups that could potentially derail drilling plans.
The court said that Shell does not have the right to block legal complaints against the BSEE, the Alaska Dispatch said.
“Because its plans were approved, Shell was not ‘aggrieved’ by the Bureau’s actions. Moreover, since Shell is not a federal agency, it cannot possibly have any legal obligations under the Administrative Procedures Act to the environmental groups,” the appeals court said.
The ruling, handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court, reverses a 2012 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline who declined to dismiss the lawsuit and upheld the BSEE’s approval.
Shell said it will update its spill response plan before restarting its Arctic drilling program.
In September, Shell filed an exploration plan for up to six Arctic wells with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the hopes of restarting its U.S. Arctic drilling program.
Shell said it will focus its efforts on the Burger prospect in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.