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For Immediate Release, February 21, 2012

Contact:  Vera Pardee, (858) 717 1448 or

Lawsuit Challenges Air Pollution Permit for Arctic Oil Drilling

Shell Drilling Would Foul Pristine Arctic Air, Increase Risk of Oil Spills

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity and allies have filed a lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air-pollution permit for Shell’s exploratory drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Shell intends to use the drillship Discoverer and it support fleet to drill in the fragile, remote, stormy and icy waters of the U.S. Arctic starting this summer.

“As early as this summer, the Discoverer drillship and other ships in Shell’s fleet could be in the Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean drilling for oil in some of the harshest conditions on earth,” said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center. “Each year, Shell’s massive ships will churn out vast amounts of harmful pollution that will not only damage the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems but accelerate the climate change that’s robbing polar bears and walruses of the sea ice they need to survive.”

The EPA approved Shell’s permits even though they don’t comply with the latest Clean Air Act standards. Although there are readily available technologies that would substantially reduce emissions from these ships, the EPA did not mandate that Shell install all the modern pollution controls it should have.

“Drilling for oil in the remote waters of the Arctic Ocean is courting disaster,” Pardee said. “It took months to stop the Deepwater Horizon spill, but an Arctic spill would be exponentially more dangerous and could be nearly impossible to control. Even the U.S. Coast Guard has admitted it doesn’t have the resources to cope with a spill. Instead of green-lighting Shell’s drilling operations, we should be focusing on energy sources that are clean, safe and sane.”

Earthjustice represents the Center and Alaska Wilderness League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environment Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society in the lawsuit.

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