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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Geological Survey to Review Impacts of Arctic Drilling
13 April 2010 5:15 pm
When the Obama Administration announced in December that it would allow drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea for the first time in nearly 20 years, environmentalists worried about the effect on the bowhead whale and other marine life in the pristine habitat off northwest Alaska. They called for a scientific review of the ecosystem and possible impacts from drilling.
Today, they got their wish. The Department of the Interior (DOI), which sells the oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf, announced that the U.S. Geological Survey would carry out a review of existing science and deliver it by 1 October. The results could guide how current leases for the Chukchi and adjacent Beaufort Sea, awarded in 2008, are implemented, and inform the assessment of environmental impacts needed before the government sells the next set of leases beginning in 2012.
The report will:
- Examine effects of energy exploration on marine mammals
- Evaluate cumulative effects of energy extraction on ecosystems
- Identify research needs for oil-spill response in ice-covered regions
- Review how climate change may affect impacts from energy development
DOI has been accused of catering to the oil industry in its past environmental assessments. Last week, the Government Accountability Office criticized DOI's Minerals Management Service (MMS), which runs the leasing program, for improperly conducting environmental assessments of Arctic oil exploration. The GAO report noted that MMS staff scientists have claimed that some of their analyses were suppressed by agency officials in 2006.
"We're very appreciative, and we're optimistic that [the new report] will be independent," says Eleanor Huffines of the Pew Charitable Trusts's U.S. Arctic Program.