Environmental -- 2010

In re Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.   (Environmental Appeals Bd.)

Whether greenhouse gas considerations are proper in EPA permitting decisions

On March 31 and April 9, 2010, the EPA issued permits for exploratory oil and gas drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas north of Alaska. Various environmental groups challenged the permits before EPA's Environmental Appeals Board, arguing that carbon dioxide that will be emitted during the exploration is currently subject to regulation, despite EPA's conclusion that greenhouse gases will not be subject to regulation until January 2, 2011, when the motor vehicle rule takes effect.

The NAM, American Petroleum Institute and Independent Petroleum Association of America filed an amicus brief 6/25/2010 arguing that challenges to EPA's regulatory decisions regarding whether to regulate greenhouse gases should be directed to those notice-and-comment rulemakings, not raised in the context of permit decisions. The challengers should either petition EPA for reconsideration of its "subject to regulation" ruling, or go to court to litigate over that regulation. The Environmental Appeals Board does not have the legal authority to review EPA regulations, but may only determine a challenged permit's compliance with the Clean Air Act and applicable regulations.

In December, 2010, the Appeals Board invalidated the permits and sent them back to the EPA, which granted them in September, 2011.

Related Documents:
NAM Reply Brief  (August 2, 2010)
NAM brief  (June 25, 2010)


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