President Joe Biden’s administration has suspended all oil and gas leases in Alaska, for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending environmental reviews and permits; the U.S. Department of Interior said this Tuesday and reported by Reuters.
Firstly, the action reverses countless efforts by former president Donald Trump to open the area for leasing. As we reported previously, one of the last actions by Trump was to held the very first auction in the area.
Secondly, despite the historic auction, the industry showed very little interest for the lands; in fact, banks and other financial institutions decided not to fund any project in Alaska.
Thirdly, during his campaign, President Biden pledged to protect the area home of caribou, polar bears and other wildlife endangered of extinction. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has almost 19,6 million acres.
Moreover, National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy, said in a statement. “President Biden believes America’s national treasures are cultural and economic cornerstones of our country; he is grateful for the prompt action by the Department of the Interior to suspend all leasing pending a review of decisions; made in the last administration’s final days that could have changed the character of this special place forever.”
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Biden backed another project in Alaska
In addition, Alaska-based groups and environmental activists cheered the decision of the president and the Interior Department. Even congress people claimed it was the right choice. Senator Tom Carper, said via Twitter. “This is the right move by Biden. We should be protecting our treasured public lands and being good stewards of the vulnerable spaces that we are lucky to have in this country; especially in the midst of a climate crisis.”
Furthermore, this decision follows president Biden January 20 executive order that identified “alleged legal deficiencies” in the first leasing program; consequently, putting a moratorium on any other oil and gas activities in the region.
According to Politico, a new environmental analysis of the leases could impose new restrictions for the winning companies; or even potentially nullify the leases altogether, completely undoing what president Trump done just weeks before leaving office.
Finally, this decision comes after Biden gave its support for a project to be developed by ConocoPhillips, in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.