Green groups turn to ‘walrus rule’ in fight against Shell Arctic drilling

Green groups turn to ‘walrus rule’ in fight against Shell Arctic drilling

San Francisco: Green groups on Tuesday were pressing the US government to rescind its approvals for Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign because, they say, the drilling will violate regulations that protect walruses.

Shell is well on the way to ending its three-year hiatus and resuming exploratory Arctic activity with most of the red tape cleared and one rig, the Polar Pioneer (pictured), already well on the way to Alaska.

But environmentalists, who have opposed the plan all along and tried a variety of legal and protest tactics to block the oil giant, think they may have a winning argument now.

Anti-drilling activists have written to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell pointing out that Shell’s plan for two rigs in the same vicinity of the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska contradicts a Fish and Wildlife regulation requiring rigs to be 15 miles away from each other during exploration work.

Under the current plan the Polar Pioneer and its partner platform Noble Discoverer would be only nine miles apart. The purpose of the 15-mile rule is to prevent negative effects on foraging or migrating walruses.

The groups who contacted Secretary Jewell include Oceana, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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