The waters off the Arctic—especially the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—host a rich variety of marine life, such as beluga whales. Belugas are social animals that often migrate, hunt and interact with each other in groups ranging from ten to several hundred. They are near the top of the Arctic marine food chain, feeding on fish, squid and crustaceans.
Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Photo: © Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
In March 2010, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued to Shell Oil two multi-year major source air permits for its exploration drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Earthjustice, on behalf of several petitioners, filed a petition for review of the permits in front of the Environmental Appeals Board, an administrative court within the EPA.
The petition challenged approval of both Shell’s Chukchi and Beaufort permits on the grounds that EPA failed to apply best available control technology to Shell’s support vessels’ air emissions. The EAB, in December 2010, concluded the permits had been issued unlawfully and remanded the permits back to the EPA for further analysis. The EPA is now reconsidering the permits in light of the EAB’s order.
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