ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Decades-long political and legal battles over drilling in America’s largest wildlife refuge took another turn when the Biden administration suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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The move was a blow to oil and gas proponents, who came the closest they ever have to starting drilling after the refuge was expanded 40 years ago to include the oil-rich coastal plain.

The Department of Interior suspension came Tuesday after Biden issued a temporary moratorium on his first day in office.

The refuge was nearly opened to drilling in 1995 until President Clinton vetoed a bill that Congress sent him.

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