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Shell Backs Out Of Agreed-Upon Arctic Emissions Limits

Shell Backs Out Of Agreed-Upon Arctic Emissions Limits

After years of whining, the Shell oil company was able to bully EPA into granting permits for offshore drilling in the Arctic. The permits were granted despite the fact that there have been no tests of spill response equipment in US Arctic waters since 2000 and those equipment tests were “a failure.”

Now it’s been given the green light to desecrate one of the last truly pristine ecosystems on the planet, Shell still isn’t satisfied. The company is now begging the Environmental Protection Agency to loosen air pollution requirements for its Discoverer drill rig–requirements it already agreed to when the permits were granted.

In its application to the agency, dated June 28, Shell said the Discoverer cannot meet the requirements for emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia of an air permit granted by the E.P.A. in January. The company also asked for a minor air permit modification for its Kulluk drill ship, which is also supposed to begin work in the Arctic in the coming weeks.

Somehow, it’s hard to believe that Shell has just now realized it will be impossible to keep emissions within agreed-upon limits. Instead, it seems more likely that the company said whatever it had to, and now that it has permits in hand, it’s trying to rewrite the rules.

This kind of backpedaling, coupled with the fact that the Discoverer has already been involved in an accident, isn’t exactly the way to engender public confidence in a company’s ability to work safely. After years of buying and bribing politicians Shell is used to getting what it wants, no matter how many times it breaks a promise. Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman, said he did not expect the permit changes to affect the drilling schedule.

Related Reading:

Shell Sues The Center For Biological Diversity, Again

Shell Races Toward Arctic Without Any Clean-up Barge

Drill, Baby, Drill: Shell’s Arctic Madness

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Image via mark.bold/Flickr

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104 comments

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9:48AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Shell is responsible for massive environmental crimes and human rights atrocities in Nigeria, why would anyone think that Shell gives a damn about the environment. Their management is a mafia out for profit and profit only. The entire gang leading Shell are a bunch of criminals.

10:33PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

In short: my "I can try to tell you about , but" means I would like the reader(s) to get info from better source than my amateur explorations. One of the reasons being I tend to get too wordy in writing. (duh)

10:24PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Oh, that is not what I meant. I'm sorry if it looked like I'm implying people here can't search and/or go to Wikipedia to read about the topic.
I personally prefer to read articles written by scientists themselves, even though they are filled with specific terms and can often be not as easy to read as news articles or those on Wikipedia. There is nothing wrong with Wikipedia, but some details may be missing in a certain article, or not all points of view may be presented. They are constantly improving and growing, after all, and have high standards. Yet that might mean a difference between making a correct conclusion from complete set of relevant data and a correct conclusion from incomplete set of relevant data.
But a scientist specializing in this field could explain everything much better, much faster and using only simplifications acceptable in the context.

4:55PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Carina, I meant that you and I can google, but you shouldn't go from the supposition that others - the public if you will - can't. The rest of your comment, however, is enlightening as usual.

1:55PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Hans, I'm not sure what you mean. There are high chances conditions that made the bloom possible in that region will support its existence for some time and lead to new blooms. I haven't found the species involved on the list of harmful species of phytoplankton, though I didn't do a thorough search on this one. And while algal blooms may be harmful in creating large quantities of dead organic in the area that is actually consuming oxygen, that is part of self-regulation. Until nutrients necessary for the phytoplankton are depleted there will be a spike in growth of all species that feed on dead cells as well, and since there are no artificial sources of such nutrients they will be depleted before hypoxia occurs. Besides, becoming a source of food for other marine life is not the only way for the bloom to be reduced: parts of it will be taken by currents to other areas in the ocean where it will again breed and be consumed, it's a never-ending process.
But if I'm mistaken in some part of my reasoning, please explain me where exactly. I believe it would be both beneficial for other members who happen to read this comments and to me, as I really want to better understand how ecosystem works.

4:29AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Comment to Carina K’s very important heads up
The importance of phytoplankton and the phenomenon “Algal Bloom”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytoplankton
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algal_bloom
You don’t have to be a marine biologist to “google”, and Wikipedia may be considered an authoritave source.

2:07PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

First fact: a large phytoplankton bloom was found in Bering and Chukchi Seas - http://www.care2.com/causes/immense-algae-bloom-signals-major-change-in-arctic.html (exact locations mentioned here: https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewSlideshow.do?clid=79993&aid=140109).
I can try to tell you how important phytoplankton is in a World Ocean food chain (=in Earth's food chain), but I hope there is at least one marine biologist on Care2 who will do this much better. They can also tell about importance of phytoplankton in oxygen production.

Second fact: Shell got permits to drill in Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

My theories, from most realistic to least realistic:
1) Shell is actually led by algae-hating (or specifically phytoplankton-hating) aliens bent on destruction of their mortal enemies everywhere in the Universe;
2) Shell is a company who cares nothing for the habitat they live in because they have a vast fleet of space ships ready to take them to bristling Earth-like colonies somewhere in space;
3) Shell wants to destroy most of life on Earth, for whatever reasons, maybe they just like killing things;
4) Shell is a responsible energy company that runs a serious business and takes all necessary precautions to avoid bringing their own species (one of millions to be affected) closer to extinction.

Sure, killing one breeding ground for phytoplankton will not be enough. But I believe in Shell and other companies like them. Like BP, for example.

6:38PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Thanks for the story.

8:35AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Shame on them!!

6:52AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Let's stop them! Petition signed and shared! Let's show them that a SMALL group of people CAN make a BIG difference!!

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