Bush administration bars drilling in Arctic wetland
This certainly is a change of direction for them.
The Bureau of Land Management proposed a 10-year leasing moratorium for 430,000 acres of wetlands north and east of vast Teshekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Environmentalists and local groups hailed the decision.
"This plan provides a balanced approach to energy development and wildlife protection, and forms a solid basis for the Bureau of Land Management to proceed with an oil and gas lease sale later this year," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in a statement.
The area, the North Slope's biggest freshwater lake, is considered potentially rich in oil and gas as well as a critical habitat for migrating birds and caribou. Two years ago, the administration was poised to sell leases to energy companies seeking to drill.
But a lawsuit by environmentalists and native groups forced the agency to revisit the plan in late 2006.
Extensive public comment, input from the local government and practical considerations contributed to the policy change, said Jim Ducker, an environmental program analyst for the BLM.
Ducker noted that the area is 40 to 70 miles away from any oil-field infrastructure.