EPA board rejects appeal of Shell Arctic permit

By DAN JOLING | January 12, 2012 | 7:20 PM EST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell has cleared another roadblock in its quest to drill exploratory wells in Arctic waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Appeals Board on Thursday rejected challenges to an air permit the agency granted for Shell's drill ship in the Chukchi (CHUK-CHEE) Sea.

A Shell subsidiary hopes to drill up to three exploratory wells in the Chukchi during the open water season next summer.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith says in a company statement that the decision means the company for the first time has usable air permits that will allow the drill ship, the Noble Discoverer, to work in the Alaska outer continental shelf in 2012.

Shell also hopes to drill up to two exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's north coast.