Alaska Native, Conservation Groups Challenge Shell Air Permit

Nine Alaska Native and conservation groups have challenged a federal air permit granted by the Environmental Protection Agency for a second Shell Oil drilling rig intended for Arctic waters.

The groups last month appealed an air permit for the Discoverer and its support vessels. Environment law firm Earthjustice on Monday appealed the EPA permit for the drilling vessel Kulluk.

Shell hopes to use the vessels to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas next summer.

The groups claim the drill ships could emit significant amounts of pollution, setting an unhealthy precedent in the Arctic. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says that the company has made efforts to reduce emissions to the lowest possible levels.

A successful appeal of air permits played a part of Shell’s decision to cancel drilling for 2011.

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