The U.S. Minerals Management Service will offer oil and gas exploration rights
next month to 29.7 million acres in the remote Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska, according to Reuters. The decision to hold the February 6 lease sale
, the first in the Chukchi since 1991, comes days before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the polar bear as threatened and has drawn fire from environmentalists seeking to limit oil development in the area.