Murkowski Welcomes Approval of Air Permits for Shell’s Arctic OCS Plans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement regarding a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal appeals board confirming the validity of two air-quality permits for Shell’s Noble Discoverer drillship to explore Alaska’s Arctic waters this summer:

“The validation of Shell’s first air quality permits is almost the end of what has been a long and exhaustive process,” Murkowski said. “I’m relieved that the EPA’s internal appeals board chose here not to drag out the process any further, and I hope that the permits for Shell’s second drillship, the Kulluk, are similarly confirmed in a timely manner.”  

The Discoverer permits also allow Shell to operate support ships, including its icebreakers, supply ships and oil spill response vessels.

“This result confirms (EPA) Administrator Jackson’s prediction that there will be no human health risk at issue with Alaska’s offshore exploration, and thereby reinforces the need for a much more efficient and straightforward review process than the multi-year regulatory loop we’ve seen so far,” Murkowski said. “This is why Congress has acted to ensure that all air quality issues for the Arctic are, moving forward, subject to the same rules as the Gulf of Mexico.”

Shell has been trying to get valid air permits from the EPA since 2006. After the issuance of two separate permits and two rounds of appeals by environmental activists, today’s decision upholds the validity of the revised permits issued by the agency for the drillship Discoverer. A decision on the permits for the drillship Kulluk is expected soon.