Judge declines to block oil and gas leases in Alaskan wildlife refuge

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JUNEAU, Alaska (WLNS) – A U.S. District Court judge has refused to halt controversial oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

That’s a stretch of pristine wilderness in the north-eastern part of the state. It’s more than 30,000 square miles, bigger than the land area of South Carolina, and serves as a home for native species, including some that are endangered. Indigenous groups consider the area to be sacred.

The Department of Interior plans to sell oil and gas drilling leases in the area starting tomorrow. This was a goal of the Trump Administration but is opposed by President-Elect Joe Biden, so the department wants the process to move quickly.

Conservationists opposed selling the leases, which they say would damage the wildlife refuge. However, Judge Sharon Gleason ruled today that those groups did not show those leases would cause enough harm to justify an injunction.

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