Endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales are threatened by oil drilling and exploration, according to a lawsuit filed on May 15 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Native Village of Chickaloon, Center for Water Advocacy (CWA) and Center for Biological Diversity. The suit challenges a permit issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service to Apache Alaska Corporation to allow oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, home to a dwindling population of 280 beluga whales protected by the Endangered Species Act.
“Each year, there are fewer and fewer of these whales left,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney with NRDC. “Oil and gas drilling activities expose Cook Inlet beluga whales to ear-splitting underwater noise that threatens their survival. All that noise in the marine environment makes survival impossible for these endangered whales.”