A federal agency is testing the waters on a possible new lease sale in the Alaska Arctic.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to take comments on areas in the Beaufort Sea that have the most promising oil and gas potential. The agency says it also wants to learn more about environmentally sensitive habitats and subsistence activities within the planning area.
Spokesman John Callahan says this is the first step in a long process, and no decision has been made on whether to go ahead with a lease sale.
The executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League says her group does not want to see more drilling in the Beaufort, citing the uncertainty of the arctic climate and lack of scientific information about the Arctic Ocean.