Oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic refuge have been suspended by President Joe Biden.
By blocking oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Biden administration has reversed a Trump-era drilling initiative.
The directive by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland comes after President Joe Biden ordered a temporary ban on oil and gas leasing activity on his first day in office.
Mr. Biden’s executive order from January 20 stated that a new environmental evaluation was required to resolve potential legal weaknesses in a drilling program allowed by the Trump administration under a 2017 statute passed by Congress.
The US Department of the Interior claimed it found “defects in the underlying record of decision supporting the leases, including the lack of study of a reasonable range of alternatives” as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, a foundational environmental legislation.
Polar bears, caribou, snowy owls, and other species, as well as migrating birds from six continents, call the 19.6 million-acre refuge home.
Republicans and the oil industry have been attempting for years to drill in the oil-rich refuge, which is sacred to the Indigenous Gwich’in.
Democrats, environmentalists, and certain Alaska Native communities have all attempted to stop it.
The Interior Department action was praised by environmental groups and Democrats, but it was criticized by Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation as stupid and illegal.
On January 6, two weeks before Mr Biden entered office, the US Bureau of Land Management, an Interior Department agency, launched a lease sale for the refuge’s coastal plain.
The agency signed contracts for nine sites totaling approximately 685 square miles eight days later. The leases were not issued until January 19, former President Donald Trump’s last full day in office, when they were publicized publicly.
Mr. Biden has spoken out against drilling in the area, and environmentalists have pushed for permanent restrictions, something Mr. Biden advocated for during his presidential campaign.
The suspension of the leases comes after administration officials upset environmental organizations last week when they defended a Trump administration decision to permit a large oil project on Alaska’s North Slope.
Critics claim that the conduct contradicts Mr. Biden’s statements. (This is a brief piece.)