Reporting from Washington and Anchorage —
A federal judge in Alaska blocked plans Wednesday for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, ruling that the Interior Department did not adequately consider the proposal's environmental effects.
The government did not analyze the possible effects of natural gas exploration in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, the judge said, nor did it compile potentially crucial information about how drilling could affect wildlife.
Both actions violated the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the nation's signature environmental laws, U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline ruled. He ordered the department to revise its environmental analysis before drilling can proceed.
The ruling adds to the oil and gas industry's recent Arctic setbacks. Shell Oil was poised to begin exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer, but the Obama administration froze the plan after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, citing safety concerns.