Alaska Wilderness League; Center for Biological Diversity; Natural Resources Defense Council; Northern Alaska Environmental Center; Pacific Environment; Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands; Sierra Club; The Wilderness Society, Petitioners,
United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondent, Shell Offshore Inc., Respondent-Intervenor.
Argued and Submitted May 21, 2013 Anchorage, Alaska
On Petition for Review of an Order of the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Appeals Board
Colin C. O'Brien (briefed and argued), Earthjustice, Anchorage, Alaska; Eric P. Jorgensen, Earthjustice, Juneau, Alaska, for Petitioners.
Ignacia S. Moreno and Angeline Purdy (briefed and argued), Assistant Attorneys General, United States Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division; Alexander Fidis, Office of Regional Counsel, Region 10, United States Environmental Protection Agency; David Coursen, Office of General Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency, for Respondent.
Duane A. Siler, Sarah C. Bordelon, and Tony G. Mendoza, Crowell & Moring LLP, Washington, D.C.; Kathleen M. Sullivan (briefed and argued), William B. Adams, and David S. Mader, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, New York, New York, for Respondent-Intervenor.
Samuel B. Boxerman, Jim Wedeking, and Lisa E. Jones, Sidley Austin, LLP, Washington D.C.; Mara E. Zimmerman, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae American Petroleum Institute.
Cameron M. Leonard, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, for Amicus Curiae State of Alaska.
Before: A. Wallace Tashima, Richard C. Tallman, and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges.
The panel denied a petition for review of a decision of the United States Environmental Protection Agency denying a challenge to a Clean Air Act permit that allowed Shell Offshore Inc. to conduct "pollutant emitting activities" associated with the drill vessel Kulluk in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's North Slope, and granted Shell a requested exemption of 500 meters surrounding the Kulluk from "ambient air" regulations.
As a threshold matter, the panel held that the EPA's decision, which included its interpretation of the Clean Air Act's 42 U.S.C. § 7661c(e), was entitled to Chevron deference. The panel held that the EPA reasonably concluded that Shell need not analyze the Kulluk's potential impact on the Clean Air Act's "increment" requirements before obtaining an oil exploration permit. The panel also upheld the EPA's exemption of a 500-meter radius surrounding the Kulluk from "ambient air" quality standards because the decision was a permissible application of the EPA's regulations.
N.R. SMITH, Circuit Judge: