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Obama Moves to Put Much of Refuge Off Limits to Drilling

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President Barack Obama will take steps to restrict 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration, a move denounced by Alaskan lawmakers who have fought for years to open the area up to drillers.

The administration on Sunday announced a plan to add protections to the refuge and also called on Congress to designate “core areas” of the 19.8 million-acre refuge as wilderness, including its Coastal Plain, according to a statement from the Interior Department. The designation is the highest level of protection from development that’s available to public lands, according to the department.