The Biden administration seeks to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, as they suspend all oil and gas leases in this sensitive region.
The Biden administration is suspending all oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending a deeper look at the environmental impacts of drilling.
The US-born politician, Joe Biden recently became president for an interim period following Trump’s impeachment on Nov 17th, 2018. He has made many changes to climate policies during his term including halting offshore drilling projects near fragile coasts like Florida while also prohibiting new coal mining permits that were planned by previous administrations before him (Greene). The newly elected President seems determined to undo some of the damage done over decades when it comes down to fossil fuels and their impact on nature which led us into this current time where we are experiencing global warming due to too high levels of carbon dioxide being released into our atmosphere.
The suspension of leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was one step closer to reality following a January 20 executive order put into place by President Joe Biden. The original leasing program has been under scrutiny for some time, and this new measure is an attempt to evaluate any legal flaws that may be present with its current structure.
President Biden has a plan to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. His recent executive order suspends all leases and prohibits any oil- or gas-related activities in the refuge until DOI undertakes an environmental review of potential legal flaws with this program, which could be years away.
What is the matter?
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has taken action to stop all drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) after discovering legal inadequacies. “The oil industry hasn’t even had a chance yet,” said President Trump on January 2nd, 2019 before signing an order that halts environmental review and permits for this area until its status can be reviewed by congress. The Interior Department is expected to publish their intent within 60 days of suspending activities around ANWR leases as they prepare for these reviews from congress with hopes of resuming once everything’s sorted out.”
The new environmental analysis could restrict the development within this refuge or it can nullify leases altogether, which would be a setback for President Trump’s signature policy achievement. However, Tuesday’s secretarial order doesn’t go as far as green groups have petitioned in an ongoing lawsuit that wants to void those same leases from earlier this year.
The decision to move forward with the development of ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which lies directly west of ANWR, came after Joe Biden’s administration disappointed environmental groups by lending its support.
The opening of the coastal plain to drilling marked a milestone in the oil industry’s decades-long battle for access. The area opened up is crucial calving ground and home to federally listed polar bears, whose population numbers have declined dramatically as sea ice has diminished.
The Biden administration completed the environmental impact statement in less than two years and held the first-ever lease sale in the refuge on January 6, just two weeks before leaving office. According to FOIA documents obtained by POLITICO, this was done due to a single-day antitrust review that normally takes from six weeks up to several months! On Jan. 8th, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen signed an opinion letter concluding that it complied with anti-competitive laws.
The US federal government’s attempts to access the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of America’s last great wilderness areas and a major draw for tourists worldwide, have been unsuccessful. Despite their efforts over decades, oil industry players were unable to generate any interest in December 2018 during this year’s lease sale which generated only $14.4 million from bids by three companies who were not even among America’s largest energy corporations. The reason? American entrepreneurs are increasingly looking abroad where there is more opportunity than at home or under President Obama with his shortsighted policies on drilling (since repealed) that would include opening ANWR up as well as offshore exploration near Alaska coasts through seismic testing techniques like “air guns” blasting sound waves deep into ocean floors around our continent.
In addition to AIDEA, Knik Arm Services, a real estate and leasing firm, and Regenerate Alaska picked up one tract each.
The leases were signed and issued on January 19.
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