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Sale of oil drilling leases off New England held up

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the sale of oil drilling leases off the New England coast. A US District Court judge issued the injunction against the planned sale of about 500 plots of sea bottom on the environmentally sensitive Georges Bank, one of the world's richest fishing grounds. The Massachusetts attorney general's office and the Conservation Law Foundation had filed suit after the federal government did not comply with a Massachusetts request that 98 tracts be withdrawn from the sale.

A day earlier, Interior Secretary James Watt acknowledged that 10 members of a panel advising him on oil drilling on the outer continental shelf were replaced. But he denied they were purged for political purposes.

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