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EPA Approves Shell’s OCS Plans, Murkowski Welcomes the Decision

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Upon hearing the announcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal appeals board confirming the validity of two air-quality permits for Shell’s Noble Discoverer drillship to explore Alaska’s Arctic waters this summer, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was relieved the board chose not to stretch the process out any further.

“The validation of Shell’s first air quality permits is almost the end of what has been a long and exhaustive process,” Murkowski said in a press release. “I’m relieved that the EPA’s internal appeals board chose here not to drag out the process any further, and I hope that the permits for Shell’s second drillship, the Kulluk, are similarly confirmed in a timely manner.”

The permit will also allow Shell to operate support ships for the Discoverer that include icebreakers, supply ships and oil spill response vessels.

“This result confirms (EPA) Administrator Jackson’s prediction that there will be no human health risk at issue with Alaska’s offshore exploration, and thereby reinforces the need for a much more efficient and straightforward review process than the multi-year regulatory loop we’ve seen so far,” Murkowski said. “This is why Congress has acted to ensure that all air quality issues for the Arctic are, moving forward, subject to the same rules as the Gulf of Mexico.”

The permit process has been ongoing for Shell since 2006.