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Shell's Pre-Emptive Lawsuit Found Unconstitutional - Environmental Law News

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Environmental Law News

Posted on: Nov 20, 2014

By Angela P. Krahulik, Ice Miller LLP

Royal Dutch Shell filed a "preemptive" lawsuit in 2012 against several environmental and activist groups related to its oil spill plans. Recently, the 9th Circuit called Shell's declaratory judgment action a "novel legal strategy," finding the approach unconstitutional. They say that Shell was not aggrieved by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's approval of its oil spill plans and Shell is not a federal agency, therefore it cannot have any obligations under the Administrative Procedures Act to the environmental groups.

Though Shell claims its suit was a permitted use of the declaratory judgment act, environmental groups point out that such lawsuits, if permitted, may be used by large corporations as an intimidation tactic to discourage citizen participation in governmental action. Check out this article for more on the decision.

This post was written by Angela P. Krahulik, Ice Miller LLP. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Environmental Law Section page, please email Mary Kay Price at


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