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Beaufort and Chukchi Seas: Taking a Stand for Living Marine Resources

NAEC strives to address concerns at the earliest possible time such as the adequacy of scientific baseline information in the rapidly changing ecosystem of Arctic seas caused by sea ice loss or failure to meet the standards for clean air, clean water, and public involvement and review. We were disappointed that significant issues were not addressed in recent goverment decisions to approve offshore lease sales and drilling, and therefore found it necessary to take legal action to ensure that our nation’s benchmark environmental laws are upheld so that fragile ecosystems receive sufficient protection.

NAEC strives to voice concerns about needed environmental protection from the earliest stages in planning processes to best avoid unacceptable conflicts with wilderness, wildlife, subsistence, recreation and other values of the land and coasts.  When significant issues are not addressed, such as the adequacy of scientific baseline information in the rapidly changing ecosystem of Arctic seas caused by sea ice loss or failure to meet the standards for clean air, clean water, and public involvement and review, we find it necessary to take legal action to ensure that our nation’s benchmark environmental laws are upheld to protect the Arctic environment. Therefore, NAEC has joined several legal challenges to protect the arctic environment for future generations:

State of Alaska Beaufort Sea Area-wide Leasing Plan Appeal

NAEC joined with other conservation and Alaska Native organizations in an appeal filed by Trustees for Alaska to the Alaska Superior Court of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner’s approval of the Beaufort Sea 10-year leasing blueprintThe appeal states that Commissioner Irwin failed to safeguard the public interest as required by Alaska’s constitution in his determination that the Beaufort Sea Areawide Oil and Gas Lease Sale was in the best interest of the state, and by allowing the sale to proceed without a proper analysis as it requires.  This lease sale area spans from the Canadian border nearly to Barrow and threatens vital coastal waters used by polar bears, fish and birds right next to the Arctic Refuge.  Read More...

Chukchi Sea Oil & Gas Sale 193

NAEC joined Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, and a dozen other Alaska Native and conservation organizations challenged the Interior Secretary’s decision to offer approximately 29.4 million acres in federal waters of the Chukchi Sea for oil and gas leasing and that an inadequate environmental impact statement violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other laws.  The Chukchi Sea is habitat for endangered bowhead whales, threatened polar bears, walrus and a host of other wildlife – many of which are vital to sustaining the thousands-year old subsistence way of life of Alaska Native coastal communities.  Read More...

Shell Oil Drilling Plans Challenged

NAEC joined with Native Village of Point Hope, and about a dozen other conservation and Alaska Native organizations in appeals of the Interior Department’s approval of Shell Oil’s exploratory drilling plans in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea.  Earthjustice’s filing to the Ninth Circuit Court contests Minerals Management Service’s approval of drilling plans after doing only an abbreviated and internal review of its potential harms and despite significant concerns surrounding Shell’s oil leases in the Chukchi Sea.  The Beaufort Sea drilling would take place north of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the bowhead whale’s migratory path and polar bear habitats.   The cases were combined since the same drill ships and fleet of support vessels are involved and lack of baseline study and cumulative impact review is involved for both seas.  Read more about the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea cases...

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