CRIME

Environmental groups sue federal agency to block Shell permits for Arctic offshore drilling

FILE - In this July 17, 2012, file photo, adult female walruses rest on an ice flow with young walruses in the Eastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Ten environmental groups Tuesday, June 2, 2015, sued a federal agency over its approval of a plan by Royal Dutch Shell PLC for exploratory petroleum drilling off Alaska's northwest coast. (S.A. Sonsthagen/U.S. Geological Survey via AP, File)

FILE - In this July 17, 2012, file photo, adult female walruses rest on an ice flow with young walruses in the Eastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Ten environmental groups Tuesday, June 2, 2015, sued a federal agency over its approval of a plan by Royal Dutch Shell PLC for exploratory petroleum drilling off Alaska's northwest coast. (S.A. Sonsthagen/U.S. Geological Survey via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Ten environmental groups are suing a federal agency over its approval of drilling permits off Alaska's northwest coast.

The lawsuit seeks a review of permits granted to Royal Dutch Shell PLC by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE') Sea.

Drilling in the Arctic Ocean region is opposed by environmental groups that contend oil companies are not equipped to deal with a major blowout or spill in a region lacking deep-water ports, major airports and other infrastructure routinely present in other drilling areas.

The groups say the federal agency's review of Shell's exploratory drilling plan was rushed and cursory.

They say the company's drill vessels and an accompanying flotilla of support vessels threaten whales, walruses and seals.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.