Scientists: Drop Arctic from plans for offshore drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Nearly 400 scientists are urging President Obama to eliminate the possibility of Arctic offshore drilling in the near future by taking Arctic waters out of the next federal offshore lease sale plan.

The 388 scientists include Jane Lubchenco, Obama’s former administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Now a researcher and teacher at Oregon State University, Lubchenco says she’s seen unprecedented changes in the Arctic and conserving important marine areas is an essential step in sustaining the region’s resilience.

The Interior Department is collecting public comment through Thursday on the proposed 5-year oil and gas leasing program, which would cover 2017 to 2022.

Alaska elected officials strongly support opening Arctic waters to drilling as a new source of oil for the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Gov. Bill Walker says petroleum development can occur without harm to the ocean and Alaska communities depend on it.