For Immediate Release, July 13, 2012
Contact: Rebecca Noblin, (907) 274-1110
Shell Asks EPA to Waive Air-quality Rules for Arctic Drilling
Multinational Oil Company Says It Cannot Meet Arctic Clean-air Standards
ANCHORAGE, Alaska— The multinational oil company Shell has admitted that its Arctic drillship Noble Discoverer cannot meet the air-quality emissions standards in its Clean Air Act permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Shell is now asking the EPA to loosen these air-quality standards, which are mandated to protect public health and the environment, so that it can rush forward with its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer.
“Shell’s tactic of agreeing to certain standards to get a permit and then reneging at the eleventh hour is highly suspect,” said Center for Biological Diversity Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin. “If Shell gets its wish, the air standards that are in place to protect the Arctic people and environment will be wiped away without any public process. The EPA has a responsibility to the American people to hold Shell to its promises and refuse this last-minute waiver.”
In its June 28 revised permit application, Shell requested the EPA allow a threefold increase in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from the Noble Discoverer. It also requested a tenfold increase in harmful particulate matter emissions from its spill-response vessel Nanuq. Although Shell has known for more than a year that its drillship cannot meet the permit standards, the company’s ships were already Arctic-bound when it announced its intention not to comply.
“This is strike three for Shell,” Noblin said. “In the past month the company has gone back on promises regarding oil-spill response, Arctic weather preparedness and now air emissions. The Obama administration should send Shell back to the bench.”
Although Shell’s oil-spill response plan relies on the company’s stated ability to clean up 95 percent of spilled oil at the source, Shell has recently stated that it will merely “encounter” 95 percent of spilled oil, not clean it up. And just last week Shell admitted that its spill response vessel Arctic Challenger cannot meet the required Arctic weather preparedness standards.
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently considering Shell’s request for laxer weather preparedness standards, and the EPA is considering Shell’s request to waive its air-quality permit. In addition, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has not yet issued Shell’s final permits to drill.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.