Biden suspends Trump-era oil drilling lease in Arctic refuge


The executive order of US President Joe Biden on January 20 stated that a new environmental review is needed to address possible legal flaws in the drilling plan approved by the Trump administration.

According to two people familiar with the matter, the administration of US President Joe Biden is reviewing oil and gas leases in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it is reviewing drilling in remote areas that have been the focus of political struggles for decades. the effect on the environment. The government’s plan was notified.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s order is scheduled to be announced later on Tuesday. Prior to this, Biden suspended oil and gas leasing activities on the first day in office. Biden’s January 20 executive order stated that a new environmental review is required to address possible legal deficiencies in the drilling plan approved by the administration of former President Donald Trump under the 2017 law approved by Congress.

Those who know the plan requested anonymity because the plan has not yet been officially released.

This remote refuge covering 19.6 million acres is home to polar bears, caribou, snow owls and other wildlife, including migratory birds from six continents. For a long time, Republicans and the oil industry have been trying to open up the sacred wildlife sanctuary by the indigenous Gwich’in for drilling. Democrats, environmental organizations, and some Alaska Native tribes have been trying to stop it.

The United States Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the Department of the Interior, conducted a lease sale on the coastal plain of the shelter on January 6, two weeks before Biden took office. Eight days later, the agency signed a lease for nine plots of land with a total area of ​​nearly 1,774 square kilometers (685 square miles). However, the release of the lease was not publicly announced until January 19, the last day Trump took office.

Biden opposes drilling in the area, and environmental groups have been pushing for permanent protection, which is what Biden called for during the presidential campaign.

Last week, officials defended the Trump administration’s decision to approve a large oil project on the North Slope of Alaska, disappointing environmental organizations, and the government took action to suspend the lease. Critics say this action runs counter to Biden’s commitment to combat climate change.

The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a court document that opponents of the Willow project in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve are attempting to “select” records from federal agencies to claim violations of environmental review laws and prevent development. The document defended the review in support of the decision to approve the project plan last fall.

A coalition of groups has filed a lawsuit to invalidate the Trump-era approval. Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal stopped certain construction activities, and the parties in the case later agreed to keep the construction activity restrictions until December 1, while the basic case continues.


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