US judge denies effort to stop drilling auction in Arctic refuge
Published: Jan 06, 2021 06:33 PM
A US federal judge in Alaska ruled late on Tuesday that the Trump administration's planned auction of oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) could proceed on Wednesday.

Chilean Antarctic Base photo:VCG

The order by US District Judge Sharon Gleason comes after environmental groups and the indigenous people of northeastern Alaska sought a preliminary injunction to block the sale in the ecologically sensitive area.

The sale is scheduled for Wednesday, but the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) started accepting bids at the end of December 2020.

The ruling is a victory for President Donald Trump's plan to deliver on an important pillar of his "energy dominance" agenda just two weeks before Joe Biden, who opposes drilling in ANWR, takes office.

Four lawsuits have been filed since August challenging the plans to auction drilling rights in the potentially energy-rich coastal plain of ANWR along the Beaufort Sea.

In her order, Gleason said the green and native groups had failed to establish that they would suffer irreparable harm as a result of the sale. If BLM approves "ground-disturbing activities" in ANWR before the groups' original lawsuits are resolved, Gleason wrote, the groups could again seek a court order to block those activities.
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