Alaska Natives and environmentalists working together to fight Shell oil drilling permit

By ICTMN Staff

The Alaska Native group REDOIL has joined with eight environmental groups in an effort to stop a drilling ship from drilling in Arctic waters, the Associated Press reports.

The drilling ship Noble Discoverer, operating for Shell Oil, was granted an air quality permit by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to drill three exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast this summer.

REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands) has joined Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society in suing the 9th Circuit Court.

According to AP, Colin O’Brien, an attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental law firm representing the groups, said “We think EPA took shortcuts. … We believe the permit failed to ensure that all air pollution controls are in place and that all standards are met for this major new source of pollution in the Arctic.”

A Shell spokeswoman said that the company’s vessels met EPA standards, but O’Brien disputes this. Shell hopes to send a second drill ship, the Kulluk, to the area, and the Discoverer would be accompanied by more than a dozen support ships. O’Brien says that EPA “only required [the] new [emissions] technology on the Discoverer drill ship and failed to hold Shell’s other vessels to the same standards.”

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