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Federal judge blocks sale of Alaska oil drilling rights

[JURIST] A federal judge issued a preliminary ruling and injunction on Thursday to prevent the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) [official website] from selling oil and gas leases to land near Teshekpuk Lake [Sierra Club backgrounder] in Alaska to oil companies. US District Court Judge James Singleton ruled that if the rights to drill for oil on the land were sold to private companies, little could be done in the future to regulate oil exploration in the area, which could cause irreparable injury to the environment. The plaintiffs, several environmental advocacy groups represented by Earthjustice [advocacy website], sued to block the sale of the leases, which was scheduled to take place on September 27. The parties have until September 15 to file responses to the preliminary ruling.

BLM has made millions of dollars since 1999 through three sales of oil and gas leases to areas around the National Petroleum Reserve, which Teshekpuk Lake borders. Last December, the US Senate rejected a proposal [JURIST report] to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) [official website] to oil drilling. Reuters has more.

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