Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., v. Center for Biological Diversity, (11/12/14, No. 13-35835)
The Ninth Circuit has rejected a “novel litigation strategy” that Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., employed in an effort to preempt a possible litigation challenge to federal approvals that Shell received for Arctic oil exploration. After receiving the approvals, but before any suit had been filed to challenge the approvals, Shell sued the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups that had publicly opposed the approvals and had threatened legal action. Shell sought a declaratory judgment that the approvals were valid and did not violate the federal Administrative Procedure Act. Shell argued that it needed an advance determination of the approvals’ validity in order to remove the threat of litigation (and delay) during the brief Arctic drilling season and protect its investment in mobilizing for the drilling season.