Groups appeal EPA issuing Arctic air permits to Shell

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, May 4 -- Ten environmental organizations and an Alaska Native village government appealed the US Environmental Protection Agency’s decisions to issue air-quality permits for Shell Offshore Inc. to drill exploratory wells on its Arctic Ocean leases from July to December.

EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle issued the permits to Shell on Apr. 9 for its Beaufort Sea leases and on Apr. 1 for its Chukchi Sea tracts. The permits regulate emissions from Shell’s Frontier Discoverer drillship and support vessels during the 2010 drilling season.

The groups, which include the Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and the Native Village of Point Hope, argued in their May 3 appeal that Shell should be required to use best available control technologies and take other steps to curb emissions further.

They asked EPA to make Shell take every possible precaution following the ongoing crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “Clearly, they are having trouble containing and cleaning the oil in the ‘tropical’ Gulf of Mexico. Imagine if you throw in blizzards and floating ice chunks,” said Dan Ritzman, the Sierra Club’s Alaska program director. “I’ve observed oil industry response drills in the Arctic Ocean and there are many times during the year when the conditions prohibit any outside human activity.”

Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm which was founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club’s legal defense fund, filed the appeal on the group’s behalf.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.



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