JUNEAU -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released draft air quality permits necessary for exploratory drilling projects in Alaska's Arctic waters to proceed.
On Friday, the agency released for public comment permits for drilling work proposed by Shell Oil Co., in the Beaufort Sea, and for Conoco Phillips Co., in the Chukchi Sea. Permits are needed for the drill rigs and fleets of supporting icebreakers, oil response vessels and supply ships in the Arctic for the 2012 drilling season, in the case of Shell, and 2013 for Conoco Phillips.
Earlier this month, EPA released draft permits for Shell's Discoverer project; those are currently undergoing public review. Public comments will be taken on the latest permits through Sept. 6.