Foreshadowing of Another Oilpocalypse? Shell's Arctic Drilling Plans Move Forward

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CommonDreams.org

Foreshadowing of Another Oilpocalypse? Shell's Arctic Drilling Plans Move Forward

by
CommonDreams staff

Photograph: Subhankar Banerjee/AP

Shell's plans for drilling in the ecologically sensitive areas in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are one step closer to becoming reality.

As The Hill reports:

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is a step closer to drilling in fragile waters off Alaska’s northern coast following an EPA appeals board’s Thursday denial of green group challenges to a pair of air pollution permits.

The agency’s independent Environmental Appeals Board denied review of Clean Air Act permits that EPA granted Shell for its controversial plans to drill in the ecologically fragile Beaufort and Chukchi Seas this summer.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Shell received conditional federal approval last month to drill six exploratory wells in the Arctic offshore region but still must secure permits for individual wells.

Environmental groups are planning their next steps. The Associated Press reports:

Earthjustice attorney Colin O'Brien, who represented groups that filed one of four air permit appeals, said it an email response to questions that the decision could be appealed in federal court, but that it was too early to speculate about potential next steps.

He said EPA took shortcuts when it issued the permits and failed to fully protect Arctic air quality as required by the Clean Air Act.

"These permits pave the way for Shell to emit thousands of tons of harmful air pollution into the pristine Arctic environment, at levels that may be harmful to nearby communities and the environment for years to come," he said. "We are disappointed that the Environmental Appeals Board decided against us and allowed EPA's permit decisions to stand.

In October green groups appealed the EPA's decision to grant Shell Clean Air Act permits to shell.

“These permits mark the start of full-scale industrial oil exploitation of the extremely sensitive Arctic. Oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean comes with unacceptable risks of spills that could have catastrophic impacts on Arctic wildlife and the communities that rely on the Arctic environment,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Vera Pardee. “We witnessed devastating damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; the turbulent, icy, dark and remote conditions of the Arctic would make cleanup there even harder — next to impossible. Drilling in Arctic waters is an extremely bad idea.”

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