Concerns about potential adverse impacts of offshore drilling of exploratory wells has conservation groups urging federal authorities to say no to a waiver for Shell Oil on air pollution limits required to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer.
The small group of protesters assembled at the federal building in Anchorage where the Environmental Protection Agency has offices objected July 23 to Shell getting major changes in Clean Air Act requirements. Shell is asking for the EPA to completely do away with its limit on ammonia emissions, to triple limits on nitrogen oxide and to alter its limit for particulate matter, they said.
Shell officials have said that even though they have spent millions of dollars retrofitting one vessel that is cannot meet some emission standards for the permit, so Shell wants the EPA to be allowed to drill this summer while seeking a revised permit.
Colin O’Brien, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, was among those objecting to Shell being allowed to proceed this summer.
“Shell has admitted that it will violate the permit, that it intends to violate the law this summer unless it is given a special waiver, and we think that any company seeking to operate in the Arctic should be held to the letter of the law,” he said.
Commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen have for years voiced concerns about possible adverse impacts to fisheries habitat from offshore exploration drilling.