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Caribou migrate in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon on Aug. 12, 2009.The Associated Press

Canadian First Nations and environmentalists have joined a U.S. lawsuit aimed at overturning a decision that opens an Alaska wilderness to oil and gas exploration.

The Gwich’In Tribal Council, which represents people in five communities in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, is now part of the lawsuit that was filed in an Alaskan court today.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has also signed onto the lawsuit, which names the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges industrial activity will damage the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, one of the largest herds left and crucial to the livelihoods of First Nations on both sides of the border.

It claims an assessment of the environmental impacts was poor and didn’t meet legal requirements.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn an Aug. 17 decision from the U.S. administration that allows industrial leases on the calving grounds.

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