(Reuters) - A divided federal appeals court rejected an effort by environmental groups to void a U.S. agency's approval of two oil spill response plans by Royal Dutch Shell Plc related to the company's oil leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas on Alaska's Arctic coast.
By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a claim that the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is part of the Department of the Interior, acted unlawfully in approving the plans, which relate to leases from 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Many environmental advocates oppose offshore energy exploration in the Arctic, on concern that any spill might prove difficult to clean up once production begins.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)