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Shell sues environmental groups to score drilling rights

Shell, the global oil and gas company, sued more than a dozen environmental groups that oppose offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The environmental groups hope to block Shell’s plans to drill exploratory wells this summer in the Chukchi Sea, between Alaska and Russia.

The idea behind the suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, is to beat environmental activists to court. Shell has already spent $4 billion on the project but has not yet started drilling.

“This is a very unique legal approach. I’m not sure anything like this has ever been done before,” Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh told the LA Times.

Shell, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, targeted, among others, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, which last week sent six activists, including the actress Lucy Lawless, to protest aboard an oil rig in New Zealand. According to AlaskaDispatch.com, Shell is also seeking damages from Greenpeace for its protest occupation.

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Whit Sheard, a senior adviser for Oceana, told the LA Times he doesn’t believe Shell has adequately met the requirements of the law.

“This cleanup plan, just like their previous cleanup plans, is woefully inadequate, based on technology that has never been proven, and continues to be too risky for the Arctic environment,” Sheard said.

He added: “What are they trying to do, get the courts to declare something legal that hasn’t been challenged as illegal? It seems premature, and potentially unnecessary.”

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