Decision Due Soon on Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling

Publication: Los Angeles Times

09/21/2009 - Opponents of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic are making a last-ditch effort to convince the Obama administration to impose the same kind of moratorium on oil and gas development that it did on major commercial fishing in the Far North.

Signatures from nearly 300,000 people supporting a halt on new drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and also in Alaska's Bristol Bay, were unveiled outside the Department of Interior in Washington, on the last day available for public comment before the department decides on future leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

A group of more than 400 scientists also is joining the public push against Arctic drilling. In a letter to the president timed to the deadline for offshore oil comments, a large group of biologists, oceanographers and other scientists warned that profound physical and biological changes in the Arctic Ocean connected to the rapid shrinking of sea ice leave too many unanswered questions to proceed with new oil and gas development.

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"There's a great deal of information from different sides in the debate," said Henry Huntington, science director for the Pew Environment Group's Arctic program, "and I think it's important to hear what scientists have to say about their understanding of the ecosystem, and equally important, the scientists' understanding of ... how well do we really know this ecosystem?"

Read the full article Decision Due Soon on Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.

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