After reviewing the notices of violation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued today regarding Royal Dutch Shell’s exploration operations in the Arctic, Earthjustice attorney Colin O’Brien issued the following analysis and statement. O’Brien is the attorney handling the litigation against Shell’s air permits for the exploration vessels in the Arctic.
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“Shell’s operations this summer repeatedly violated the terms of its air permits. Both the Discoverer and Kulluk were cited by EPA for violating 'numerous' conditions of their air permits. Not only did the Discoverer violate its original permit, it even violated the more lenient interim limits of the administrative compliance order that EPA issued at the start of the drilling season. As a consequence, EPA has terminated the compliance order.
“The violations for the Discoverer included failure to install some required air pollution control equipment, failure to properly calibrate some air pollution monitoring equipment, operation of unpermitted propulsion engines, numerous exceedances of emission limits, and the failure to timely report such exceedances.
“All told, for the Discoverer’s 43 days of operation, Shell filed 32 reports detailing permit violations. On at least 25 occasions, the reported violations entailed pollution emissions that exceeded the levels allowed by the permit or compliance order. The emission limits were intended to prevent Shell from polluting at unhealthy and environmentally consequential levels. Shell’s response has been to request that its air permit for the Discoverer be weakened further.
“EPA likewise cited the Kulluk for 'violat[ing] numerous conditions in the permit.' The violations included failure to fulfill all air pollution monitoring requirements, several exceedances of emission limits, and the failure to timely report permit deviations.
“These violations are yet another reason the administration should not allow Shell or any other company to drill in the Arctic.”
“The bottom line is that the Obama administration acted in too much haste last year when it gave Shell permits to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. That seems clear now, with EPA withdrawing their permission for the Discoverer after Shell apparently ignored the lenient air pollution rules the company itself negotiated. These violations are yet another indication that it is time for the administration to stop taking risks in the Arctic.”