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Justina Sessions Defends Environmental Groups

Courthouse News Service

Shell Sues Green Groups, Just in Case

Shell Oil sued 14 major environmental groups in Federal Court to stave off the "virtual certainty" of legal challenges to its right to harass or kill walruses and polar bears during its summertime Arctic drilling.

Shell has sued environmental groups three times since February and received two protective injunctions. It sued on Feb. 29 to try to stop 13 environmental groups from launching "last-minute legal challenges" to its Arctic drilling, and claimed Greenpeace had illegally boarded Shell's Noble Discoverer vessel on Feb. 27 in protest.

Shell sued the same environmental groups again, plus the World Wildlife Fund, on May 2, for a declaration that the Bureau of Ocean Management issued it valid Incidental Harassment Authorizations for marine mammals during exploration in the Chukchi Sea and Camden Bay, on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. Affected species include bowhead whales, gray whales, beluga whales, harbor porpoises, ringed seals, bearded seals, spotted seals and ribbon seals.

Shell got protective injunctions on March 28 and May 29.

Shell sued the same 14 groups again on Tuesday. It claims it has federal approval for its 2012 Oil Spill Response Plan, has spent $2 billion on the leases under a Department of the Interior Five-Year Program, and needs to begin Arctic oil explorations this summer or face the loss of billions of dollars in planning, permitting and manpower.

It asked the court to declare that three Letters of Authorization extend its "take" authority to walruses and polar bears in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Shell's baseline studies and exploratory drilling could hurt those species.

The 14 environmental are represented by Timothy Seaver with Seaver & Wagner in Anchorage and Justina Sessions with Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco.

Plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, Redoil, the Alaska Wilderness League, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Pacific Environment and Resources Center, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace, National Audubon Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.

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Ms. Sessions applies her competitive nature and team spirit to achieving her clients’ goals; providing focused support, creative solutions and precisely drafted motions to surmount high-stakes criminal and complex commercial litigation. Since joining Keker & Van Nest in the fall of 2011, she has handled several high-profile white collar cases, as well as intellectual property and antitrust litigation.