Revised draft for Chukchi Sea leases released

By RACHEL D'ORO | May 20, 2011 | 6:00 PM EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal government has released a revised environmental review for petroleum leases in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, but environmentalist say it still contains critical gaps.

The revision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement responds to a federal judge's ruling last year that the government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the leases.

The 2008 sale sold leases on more than 4,300 square miles of Arctic Ocean waters for nearly $2.7 billion, including $2.1 billion in high bids by Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.

In his July ruling, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline (BYST'-lyn) enjoined all activity under the lease sale pending further review.

Attorney Rebecca Noblin of the Center for Biological Diversity says the revision "makes a mockery of the environmental review process."