Agency lists science 'gaps' on Arctic drilling

By DAN JOLING | June 23, 2011 | 7:44 PM EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Federal scientists say there's a lack of key information on what effect oil and gas drilling would have in Arctic offshore waters.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey released a report Thursday identifying several science "gaps," including weather and oceanographic data that could be fed into spill models and a better understanding of climate change in the region. The report also says fundamental biology about ice-dependent species, such as ice seals and walrus, is lacking.

But it acknowledges that pro- and anti-development sides are unlikely to ever agree on what is sufficient.

The document was requested last year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the administration considered locations and methods for drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi (CHUK'-chee) seas off Alaska's north and northwest coast.