"Judge Halts Oil, Gas Development on Chukchi Sea"

"ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on billions of dollars in leases off Alaska's northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights.

The lease sale in February 2008 brought in nearly $2.7 billion for the federal government from the sale of 2.76 million acres in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, including $2.1 billion in high bids submitted by Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said that the Minerals Management Service failed to analyze the environmental effect of natural gas development despite industry interest and specific lease incentives for such development."

Dan Joling reports for the Associated Press July 22, 2010.

Friday, July 23, 2010