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Groups challenge EPA air quality permits to halt Arctic drilling

Lawsuit says Shell’s oil-drilling ship doesn’t comply with air quality regs

Environmental groups want to prevent industrial drilling operations in the Arctic Sea off the coast of Alaska. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups are challenging proposed exploratory oil drilling the Arctic Sea at every step of the way, most recently with a lawsuit challenging an EPA air pollution permit for Shell’s proposed operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

The lawsuit filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week claims the permits shouldn’t have been issued because Shell’s oil exploration ship, the Discoverer, doesn’t meet the latest Clean Air Act standards.

“As early as this summer, the Discoverer drillship and other ships in Shell’s fleet could be in the Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean drilling for oil in some of the harshest conditions on earth,” said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center. “Each year, Shell’s massive ships will churn out vast amounts of harmful pollution that will not only damage the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems but accelerate the climate change that’s robbing polar bears and walruses of the sea ice they need to survive.”

“Drilling for oil in the remote waters of the Arctic Ocean is courting disaster,” Pardee said. “It took months to stop the Deepwater Horizon spill, but an Arctic spill would be exponentially more dangerous and could be nearly impossible to control. Even the U.S. Coast Guard has admitted it doesn’t have the resources to cope with a spill. Instead of green-lighting Shell’s drilling operations, we should be focusing on energy sources that are clean, safe and sane.”

Earthjustice represents the Center and Alaska Wilderness League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environment Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society in the lawsuit.

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One Response

  1. To all those who will take issue with this action, it should be noted that it takes an average of 10 years from discovery, drilling, to production, which isn’t going to help the price of gasoline today, even though the politicians will play on the fears of the public.

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