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Conservation groups sue over Arctic spill plans

Tue., July 10, 2012, 6:23 p.m.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A coalition of conservation groups is suing the federal government over its approval of oil spill response plans for an Arctic Ocean drilling program.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop Shell Oil from beginning to drill this summer as planned.

But an attorney for Oceana, one of the groups suing, concedes it could prevent drilling in future seasons, if the coalition prevails. Attorney Michael Levine says the coalition wants to make sure the government upholds the law when approving oil spill response plans.

The lawsuit alleges the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and U.S. Interior Department officials violated environmental law, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act in approving spill plans for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

An Interior Department spokesman declined to comment.

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