Final Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea oil and gas exploration NPDES general permits
On October 29, 2012, EPA issued final Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES general permits for wastewater discharges from oil and gas exploration on the Beaufort Sea Outer Continental Shelf and Contiguous State Waters and on the Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification for the Beaufort Sea general permit on October 9, 2012.
The Beaufort and Chukchi general permits authorize 13 types of discharges from exploration drilling. The permits set effluent limitations and requirements to ensure the discharges will not cause unreasonable degradation of the marine environment, as required for ocean discharges by the Clean Water Act.
All operators must submit a Notice of Intent to discharge within 120 days prior to initiation of discharges. Operators that received administratively extended coverage under the previous general permit must submit a new Notice of Intent to comply with the requirements of the Beaufort and Chukchi general permits.
The general permits will be effective November 28, 2012 and will expire on November 27, 2017. The general permits may be appealed within 120 days of issuance in the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals in accordance with Section 509(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act.
The Beaufort and Chukchi general permits do not authorize drilling. Operators must obtain all other required permits and satisfy all other stipulations and agreements before drilling in the Arctic. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) provides authorization to drill.
Expired 2006 Arctic Oil and Gas Exploration General Permit
The previous Arctic General Permit expired on June 26, 2011. On June 23, 2011, EPA provided administratively extended permit coverage under the Arctic General Permit to Shell Gulf of Mexico, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Statoil USA E&P, and Eni US Operating Co.
The Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea general permits replace the expired Arctic general permit. Operators that received administratively extended coverage under the previous general permit must submit new Notices of Intent that comply with submission requirements of the Beaufort/Chukchi permits.