Scientists in eight Arctic nations prepared "a landmark assessment of oil and gas activity" in the region over six years, including "a clear set of recommendations on how to extract safely what are thought to be up to one quarter of the world's energy reserves." But the United States government blocked the report's release, as it prepares "to sell off exploration licenses for the frozen Chukchi Sea off Alaska, one of the last intact habitats of the polar bear." One of the authors of the report said the U.S. move "could be linked to activities in the Chukchi Sea ... where more research and assessment is needed." Another author said a "key message" of the stalled report is "to check more before you drill for oil and gas in the Arctic." The U.S. Center for Biological Diversity's climate director called the U.S. action "part of the Bush-Cheney strategy of handing out as many fossil fuel entitlements as quickly as they can in their final months in office." The Bush administration rushed the Chukchi sales, scheduled for February 6, "before Congress can complete efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act," which would also complicate oil exploration in the area.
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