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Arctic lease sale spurs record bids, lawsuit, claims of science supression

Science, Seismic Surveys Add comments

Lawsuit, Claims of Science Supression Accompany New Chukchi Lease Sale – A consortium of native and conservation groups has filed suit in federal district court, contending that an impending MMS lease sale in the Chukchi Sea did not adequately assess environmental impacts. The suit claims that the risk of an oil spill, along with the effects of seismic survey noise and the combined effects of energy development and global warming, all should recieve more scrutiny before leases are offered. Meanwhile, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has released emails and statements by former MMS marine mammalogist that charge the agency with changing key biological conclusions in its environmental assessments and downplaying the risks of moderate-level noise from seismic surveys. The sale proceeded as planned on February 6, and attracted record bids. Leases were offered in an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania; Annell Bay, Shell vice president of exploration for the Americas, said the lease sale was an opportunity to move into an undeveloped hydrocarbon base that could help meet an increasing demand for energy and blunt the import of petroleum. ‘There’s not many areas like this in the United States,’ she said. Wildlife managers will review both exploration plans and development plans submitted by successful bidders. Companies were told they may have to account for polar bears if the animals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act laws. MMS kept a coastal corridor up to 50 miles wide out of the sale; the area is used by migrating whales and subsistence hunters. Sources: Earthjustice press release, 1/31/08 [READ PRESS RELEASE] PEER press release, 2/19/08 [READ PRESS RELEASE] Forbes, 2/7/08 [READ ARTICLE] 

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