The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today rejected an appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of air quality permits for the Noble Discover, the drillship that Shell is using for exploratory drilling in the Alaska Arctic outer continental shelf. Shell is using the Noble Discoverer primarily for drilling in the Chukchi Sea, although the company had obtained two air quality permits for the vessel: one for the Chukchi Sea and one for the Beaufort Sea.
The 9th Circuit court has upheld both of those permits.
The EPA issued the Noble Discoverer’s air permits in September 2011. The permits were major Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits, rather than minor permits of a type that had previously run aground in litigation.
The Native Village of Point Hope and a group of environmental organizations subsequently appealed the issue of the permits to the Environmental Appeals Board. And, after the Appeals Board turned down the appeal in January 2012, the appeal moved to the 9th Circuit Court.
In denying the appeal, the court said that it agrees with the Appeals Board’s conclusions in interpreting how to apply the Clean Air Act and the associated EPA regulations to Shell’s drilling operations.
See story in Dec. 30 issue, available online at 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 28, at www.PetroleumNews.com