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President Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON  — The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm marine mammals and exacerbate global warming.

A five-year offshore drilling plan announced on Friday blocks planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan allows drilling to go forward in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The blueprint for drilling from 2017 to 2022 can be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years.

Nearly 400 scientists signed a letter urging Obama to eliminate the possibility of Arctic offshore drilling in the near future. Alaska’s elected officials strongly support Artic drilling.