The US Department of Interior has approved an oil and gas leasing plan that opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.
The coastal plain in the state of Alaska has remained untouched for more than 30 years.
Republicans have been lobbying to revive drilling for oil in the area.
The first auction of the lease would be held in 2022.
Environmental activists have promised to legally challenge the decision.
Hannah Safford, an environmental policy specialist and researcher at the University of California’s Davis Policy Institute for Energy, talks to Al Jazeera.
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