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.”