Environmental group seeks to stop planned drilling off Alaska coast

The environmental group EarthJustice is challenging a decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that claims a 2008 petroleum lease sale in the Chuckchi Sea off Alaska’s northwast coast by Shell meets federal environmental law.

According to the group, the Bureau of Ocean Management had to correct a number of “flaws” noted by a federal judge in a lawsuit. The Associated Press reported that the group’s attorney stated federal scientists had acknowledged “big gaps” in what they knew about basics features in that part of the Arctic Ocean and the drilling impact on areas important to whales, walrus and other marine life and birds.

Interior officials are proposing a new five-year leasing plan that would allow for only exploratory drilling next year and give regulators more time to analyze environmental risks, including potential oil spills. Top products from Impact Absorbents including the XSORB Oil Select Sock can help mitigate the effects of an oil spill.

The Minerals Management Service conducted the Chuckchi sale during the last days of the Bush Administration, putting up nearly 46,000 square miles up for sale. A subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell bought the lease for more than $2 billion with plans to begin drilling by the summer of 2012.

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