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21 Okt 1999

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

BP lawsuit (re Alaska)


Date lawsuit was filed
21 Okt 1999
Ort der Einreichung: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Ort des Vorfalls: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika


bp Vereinigtes Königreich Öl, Gas & Kohle


Snapshot: In 1999, Greenpeace and six native Alaskans Inupiat Eskimos filed a petition in US court challenging the development of the Northstar oil field by BP Exploration. Petitioners sought to challenge the US Department of the interior's approval of the development, arguing the approval would harm their subsistence lifestyle. In 2001, the Court denied the petitioner's request to review the approved development, believing the environmental impacts were sufficiently documented in the original plan.

In October 1999, Greenpeace and six native Alaskan Inupiat Eskimos filed a petition against the development by BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. of the Northstar oil field in the Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil project in the Alaskan Arctic.  The petitioners sought to challenge the US Secretary of the Interior’s 1999 approval of the Development and Production Plan (DPP) of the Northstar oil and gas development project.  The Inupiats alleged that approval would harm their subsistence lifestyle because it threatened their ability to continue hunting, fishing, and gathering traditional subsistence resources.  The plaintiffs claimed that the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was inadequate; they argued that it failed to sufficiently analyse the impact of the Northstar project on the Inupiats’ lifestyle.  The plaintiffs also claimed that the oil discharge prevention and contingency plan did not comply with the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. 

On 26 September 2001, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, denied the petitioners’ request to review the Department of Interior's approval of the DPP on the basis that the EIS “reasonably documented the environmental effects of Northstar.”  In reviewing the EIS, the standard used by the Court was whether it contained a reasonably thorough discussion of the significant aspects of the environmental consequences that may be caused by the project, including the impact of the project on the Inupiat’s subsistence lifestyle.  The Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint relating to the oil response plan because it did not have jurisdiction over this matter.  Only the US District Court had jurisdiction under the federal Oil Pollution Act to review the spill response plan.

- 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denies challenge to Northstar oil development, Maureen Clark, Associated Press, 27 Sep 2001 
- Greenpeace, Eskimos Sue to Stop BP Amoco Arctic Site, Reuters, 21 Oct 1999
- Case summary: Edwardsen v. United States Department of the Interior, Lewis & Clark Law School’s Environmental Law Online

- BP: Environmental and Social Report 1998 [scroll to page 11]

- Greenpeace: Greenpeace, Inupiat Eskimos launch court challenge against BP Amoco's Arctic oil drilling, 30 Mar 2000
- Greenpeace: Inupiat Eskimos and Greenpeace go to Court to challenge BP Amoco Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean, 21 Oct 1999

- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Edwardsen v. US Dept. of the Interior and BP Exploration, 26 Sep 2001