By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - An appeals court ruled Thursday that the Norwegian government can hand out oil drilling licenses in the Arctic, dealing a second blow to environmental groups that had sued against further drilling in the Barents Sea.

The court upheld a ruling that acquitted the government of charges from Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic that drilling for oil and gas in Arctic waters would violate the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the Norwegian constitution.

The Borgarting court of appeal, said “like the district court, (it) concluded that the decision did not violate the Constitution.” The lower Oslo District Court ruled in January 2019.

Fredrik Sejersted , the lawyer representing the Norwegian government, argued that the allotments of licenses in the Barents Sea have been dealt with several times in the Storting, or Parliament - where it was backed by a large majority. He warned the court against tipping the balance of power between elected officials and the justice system.

The groups had sued Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in an attempt to invalidate a latest round of production licenses in the Barents Sea on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

According to Norwegian broadcaster NRK, the environmental groups immediately appealed Thursday’s ruling.

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