EPA releases draft air quality permits for Shell and ConocoPhillps Arctic oil exploration activities
22 July 2011
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released two additional draft air quality permits for Shell Oil Company and ConocoPhillips Company exploratory oil drilling operations in the Alaska Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. This process will allow the public and other key stakeholders to provide important input and feedback on air permits needed for the drill rigs and supporting fleets of icebreakers, oil spill response vessels, and supply ships operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas beginning in the 2012 and 2013 drilling seasons.
Shell and ConocoPhillips have proposed exploration drilling operations that would emit more than 100 tons of air pollutants a year and therefore, must have federal Clean Air Act Title V Permits. Both operations would emit less than 250 tons per year and therefore, do not need Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. These permits limit air pollution from the drill rigs and supporting fleet of vessels and are to ensure the operations meet national ambient air quality standards.
Shell plans to begin exploration drilling with the vessel Kulluk in the Beaufort Sea beginning in the 2012 drilling season. ConocoPhillips plans to begin exploration drilling in the Chukchi Sea beginning in 2013.
Under its proposed Title V permit, Shell can operate only one vessel in the Beaufort Sea in any drilling season—either the Kulluk or the Discoverer, not both. The Discoverer and its support fleet are the subject of a separate EPA draft air quality permit currently undergoing public review and comment.
The Kulluk drilling rig arrived in Seattle’s Elliott Bay this week where its emissions reduction equipment will be retrofitted in order to comply with the draft Title V permit.
The draft Title V permits are subject to 45-day public comment periods as well as public hearings before EPA issues final permits.
EPA will accept public comments on the revised draft permits through 6 September and at public hearings in Barrow, Alaska on 23 and 24 August , and in Anchorage on 26 August. Final permits will be issued after public comments are reviewed and considered.
On 1 July, EPA also proposed revised draft air quality permits for Shell to operate the Discoverer drillship for oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea starting in 2012. Those permits are available for public comment through 5 August. The public hearing on these permits will be held on 4 August in Barrow.
EPA air permits ensure compliance with air quality regulations when and if drilling commences, but on their own do not authorize drilling. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is the federal agency that provides authorization to drill in offshore federal waters.
The EPA should be merged with Department of Energy, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce...the new consolidated agency's budget should be slashed by at least 25 percent.
Posted by: ejj | 22 July 2011 at 05:23 PM
Bigger government may cost more, but these agencies perform valuable services.
Like relieving us of wasting our own money, for one.
Many people have become jadded by life and work.
They've lost that childlike belief that anything we want or wish were true can be made true by government as long as the debt or taxes (or both) are not limited.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 22 July 2011 at 07:23 PM
May the next Gulf oil spill be on those near and dear, lest we forget.
Posted by: kelly | 23 July 2011 at 05:46 AM
Spending at these agencies has gone up by over 25% from FY 2000 - 2010. 2000 was the almighty year liberals proclaim it was Bill Clinton alone who left us with an historic budget surplus. Can you honestly say you feel like the environment is 25% cleaner, labor 25% better, our country 25% more energy independent (energy independence being the original mission of the DOE) ???
I'm actually to the point where I hope we actually turn into Greece and other european countries so we can have austerity measures imposed on our government since our lunatic president & elected representatives have failed us.
EPA Budget 2000 = 7.5 Billion
2010 = 10.5 Billion
DOL Budget 2000 = 10.6 Billion
2010 = 13.3 Billion
DOE Budget 2000 = 15 Billion
2010 = 26.4 Billion
Posted by: ejj | 23 July 2011 at 09:16 AM