Trump’s administration has announced this Thursday a Notice for Sale in the Coastal Plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The announcement comes through the Bureau of Land Management, and is set to be conducted via online on January 6.
The decision, while rushed, as the period for calls and nominations hasn’t ended, was taken under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, signed by president Trump.
“Oil and gas from the Coastal Plain is an important resource for meeting our Nation’s long-term energy demands; it will help create jobs and economic opportunities. The law makes oil and gas development one of the purposes of the refuge; clearly directing the Secretary, acting through the BLM, to carry out a competitive leasing program for the potentially energy rich Coastal Plain,” stated Chad Padgett, BLM Alaska state Director.
For environmental groups and other opposers, this “aggressive” time schedule is proof of the rush in Trump’s administration for finally opening the the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to development; before Biden’s term comes.
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The battle over Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge
As we reported previously, the sale notice could cap a bitter and long battle over drilling in the coastal plain area; it is home for polar bears, caribous, and many other wildlife that is under extinction threat. The decision for opening the arctic to development has faced strong opposition from indigenous groups and Congress members, too.
For Alaska’s Congressional delegation, nevertheless, it was great news, as they have pursued the exploitation of the area for the jobs and revenue it could bring.
The upcoming president Joe Biden has firmly said he opposes drilling the Wildlife Refuge and that he would cancel any sales or development promises; but, if leases come to fruition before he takes office on January 20, they could be hard to revoke.
For experts and market watchers, sales may never happen, as the quoted “aggressive time schedule” would be a solid argument in court. In fact, There are already four lawsuits regarding the arctic leases, on behalf of the wildlife but also on Alaska’s Native and environmental organizations.