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EPA Board Stops Shell's Clean Air Permits, Halting Arctic Drilling

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Native and conservation groups have succeeded in challenging clean air permits granted to Shell Oil to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Numerous groups alleged that Shell's permits granted by the Environmental Protection Agency would allow the company to emit tons of pollutants into the Arctic environment from a drill ship and support vessels.

The federal Environmental Appeals Board reviewed the permits and last week found that the EPA's analysis of the impact of nitrogen dioxide emissions from the ships on Alaska Native communities was too limited.

The board remanded the permits so that the analysis could be fixed by the EPA.

Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said without the permits the company can't proceed with its drilling plans in 2011.

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