EPA issues Shell’s air quality control permits
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued air quality control minor permits for drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea by the Kulluk drilling platform and Frontier Discoverer drilling vessel. Shell plans to use the two vessels for exploratory drilling at its Sivulliq prospect (formerly Hammerhead) on the western side of Camden Bay this summer.
During the public review period for the draft permits, EPA received comments both in favor and against issuing the permits.
“After thorough review and careful consideration of the comments requesting that the permits be denied, EPA has decided to issue the permits allowing Shell to conduct exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea,” EPA said. “… The final permits that EPA is issuing for Shell are designed to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act and to protect the members and natural resources of the Alaska Native villages.”
People who commented on the draft permits may petition the EPA decision before July 16, at which time the permits will become effective.
See full story in the June 24 issue of Petroleum News.
BLM to prepare a programmatic EIS for geothermal development
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will prepare a national programmatic environmental impact statement for areas with high geothermal potential in 11 western states and Alaska. Areas considered include northwestern Nevada, northeastern California and the Raft River Basin in Oregon.
The PEIS will examine the environmental impacts of boosting geothermal leasing in areas where there are possibilities for the exploration and development of geothermal resources.
“The BLM is sitting on the largest supply of geothermal energy in this country, and it is time to launch an aggressive program to develop those resources,” said BLM Acting Director Jim Hughes. “This proceeding will help us determine which areas to concentrate our geothermal leasing efforts on.”
The PEIS will also analyze the steps necessary to facilitate the processing of the approximately 100 geothermal lease applications that were pending as of Jan. 1 2005. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 stipulated that BLM must deal with 90 percent of those applications by Aug. 8, 2010.