by Jackie Bartz
Thursday, April 1, 2010
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Shell Oil is another step closer to exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea after the Environmental Protection Agency approved clean air permits on Thursday.
The company wants to start its exploratory drilling this summer, but environmental groups could derail that by tying up the permits in a legal battle.
The EPA claims the permit requirements will reduce particulate emissions by 72 percent and sulfur dioxide emissions by 99 percent.
Environmental groups argue that the government rushed those permits, and another lawsuit could be on the horizon -- the exploratory drilling is already tied up in court.
Shell leased the offshore acreage in a 2008 sale, under the Interior Department's five-year lease program.
Several environmental groups sued, claiming the government didn't properly study the environmental impact of drilling. An appeals court agreed.
On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a revised environmental analysis, which he will present to the court.