Groups protest plans for possible lease sale in Beaufort

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Environmental groups are protesting plans by federal regulators for a possible offshore petroleum lease sale in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday announced it would prepare an environmental review in support of a potential lease sale next year.

The agency scheduled public hearings and opened a 30-day public comment period.

The legality of Arctic offshore lease sales is the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Environmental groups say it’s irresponsible to spend public dollars for reviews and public hearings when the court may decide a sale is illegal.

Former President Barack Obama used executive orders to ban drilling in most U.S. Arctic waters.

President Donald Trump in April 2017 signed his own executive order reversing the bans. Environmental groups sued, claiming Trump exceeded his power.

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