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Biden administration suspends oil and gas leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Interior Department suspended nearly a dozen oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, the agency announced.

Why it matters: The move, which will require a new environmental analysis, will undo former President Trump's most significant environmental actions in his final days in office.

Worth noting: The new analysis could be time consuming and its results may spark a court battle.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Environmentalists have spent decades trying to protect this area of largely untouched wilderness that's home to thousands of caribou and a key population of polar bears. It's therefore not surprising the Biden administration would move to reverse this action, but it could spark a lengthy court battle.

Flashback: Two weeks before President Biden took office, the Trump administration auctioned off the right to drill in the refuge's coastal plain, an expanse in Alaska that has been subject to political dispute for decades.

  • Native Americans and environmentalists had opposed the sale.
  • No major oil companies participated in the auction. All but one went to an agency of the state of Alaska.

Go deeper: How Biden could thwart Trump's Arctic push

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