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Environmental groups weighing appeal of Shell’s air permit

Alaska Dispatch | Sep 21, 2011

Environmental groups say they’re reviewing air quality permits approved Monday by the federal government for Shell Oil, which hopes to drill offshore next year in Alaska’s Arctic.

The Environmental Protection Agency authorized air emissions from Shell’s drill ship Discover and a support fleet of icebreakers, oil spill response vessels and supply ships to operate 120 days a year in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

According to reports by Dow Jones and Reuters, Shell could face additional legal challenges over the permits, the approval of which marked a “major milestone” in oil multinational’s multi-year, billion dollar Arctic offshore drilling quest.

Lawyers for Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity are reportedly reviewing the air permits before they, along with Alaska Native tribal groups they represent, decide to appeal.

Erik Grafe, with Earthjustice and based in Alaska, told Dow Jones that “until the petition is adjudicated, Shell does not have a final air permit.”

Brendan Cummings, a senior lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, said that “all signs were that the group would appeal the new permits,” Reuters reported.

Other permits still need yet to be acquired and approved before Shell can proceed with its Arctic drilling plans.

Read more about the quest to unlock Arctic Alaska energy reserves.

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