EPA to issue Shell compliance order for Chukchi Sea activities

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to issue Shell Offshore Co. a compliance order setting air pollution limits for 1 year for emissions from Shell’s planned Chukchi Sea drilling.

The order stipulates that Shell not exceed air emissions limits under the federal Clean Air Act until the agency completes a full review of the company’s application to revise the permit, EPA said.

Overall emissions from the Discoverer drillship are expected to be lower this drilling season under the compliance order than the original permit allowed.

The new order does not waive any of Shell’s permit requirements or any air standards, EPA said. Any proposed revisions to the permit will be subject to full public review and comment, it noted.

The Aug. 31 action came one day after the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved certain limited activities in non-oil bearing zones by Shell on its federal Chukchi Sea leases off Alaska’s coast.

The Alaska Wilderness League expressed disappointment in EPA’s announcement.

“It is yet another sign from the Obama administration that it is putting the whims of a corporate giant over the future of one of our nation’s most valued national treasures,” said Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.

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