Oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge suspended

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The Biden administration today moved ahead with its plans to pause and potentially halt oil and gas drilling at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced today that it has suspended leases that the previous government auctioned off to oil and gas developers just weeks before Donald Donald. Trump left office.

Today’s decision follows a executive order President Joe On the same day of his inauguration, Biden made a request to the Secretary of the Interior to impose a temporary moratorium on all oil and gas activities at the shelter. Oil and gas leases are suspended as the Interior Ministry conducts a new environmental assessment, a statement said statement issued today. Based on that assessment, the leases may be terminated or subject to additional restrictions.

The DOI said it needs to address “legal deficiencies” with the previous environmental assessment conducted by the Trump administration. Home to a declining polar bear population, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is where migrating caribou return each year to have their calves.

The Trump administration executed a rushed lease sale on Jan. 6, granting companies permission to develop more than 430,000 acres of land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Facing the heat of indigenous and environmental advocates, major oil and gas companies decided not to bid on leases. So the land was sold for dirt cheap – just $25 an acre for a total of $14 million. The state-owned Alaska Investment Development and Export Authority received seven of the nine tracts that were auctioned. The Justice Department then rushed its antitrust review of the leases, according to FOIA documents obtained by: Politics. They completed the assessment in one day instead of the weeks or months that it normally takes.

“I want to thank President Biden and the Department of the Interior for recognizing the mistakes the last administration has committed against our people and for putting them on the right track,” said Tonya Garnett, Indigenous Special Projects Coordinator. village government of Venice. said in a statement according to The New York Times.

But Biden is under pressure from groups pursuing him to do more to protect other parts of Alaska from oil and gas infrastructure. Last week, the Biden administration filed a short in support of ConocoPhillips’ plans to pump more oil from the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It also suggested to rule that would allow oil and gas companies to harass polar bears and walruses in the Beaufort Sea and the western Arctic as long as they are not killed.

Outside Alaska, activists are calling on Biden not to intervene in two major pipeline battles. Last month, a federal court allowed the Dakota Access Pipeline to: to keep working while undergoing an environmental assessment. And while Biden has halted construction of the Keystone XL, he has not moved to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, the first major pipeline shutdown and replacement project in the US. Opponents say thousands of activists are getting ready for demonstrations against Line 3 this week.