Appeals Court Slams Shell’s “Preemptive” Lawsuits Against NGOs - Oceana USA

Appeals Court Slams Shell’s “Preemptive” Lawsuits Against NGOs

Oceana Lauds Decision Invalidating Shell’s Intimidation Tactics

Press Release Date: November 12, 2014

Location: Juneau, AK


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: | tel: 954.348.1314


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court rejected Shell Oil Company’s lawsuit against thirteen environmental and Alaska Native entities.  The court held that the United States Constitution does not allow lawsuits like the one Shell filed, ruling that “Shell may not file suit solely to determine who would prevail in a hypothetical suit between the environmental groups and the Bureau.”

This lawsuit was one of three the company filed in federal court in 2012 seeking “preemptive” declarations that permits granted by federal agencies—who were not parties to the cases—were valid.  The other cases have been dismissed. 

Susan Murray, Oceana’s Deputy Vice President, Pacific, issued the following statement in response to today’s decision:

“Shell’s lawsuits against Oceana and our partners attempted to circumvent the constitution.  Shell, one of the largest corporations in the world, sued nonprofit organizations on the grounds that the groups would dare speak out against the company’s proposals and use the courts to have that opposition heard when all other avenues had been exhausted without fair resolution.  Today’s decision makes clear that Shell’s intimidation tactics will not stand.  

Shell has failed repeatedly in efforts to explore in the Arctic Ocean, and it now appears that the company’s prospects in the U.S. Arctic Ocean are increasingly tenuous.  This decision comes on the heels of news that Shell has sought an unprecedented suspension of its leases.  Additionally, the company is arguing against important safety and spill prevention rules on the grounds that they are too expensive. 

Enough is enough.  Efforts to skirt important rules and intimidate opposition will not work.  It is time for Shell to face the facts and take a step back in the Arctic.” 



Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit