The Biden administration announced that it would suspend Oil drilling rights in the Arctic It was sold out in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, reversing the signature policy of the former White House and awarding the victory to environmentalists.
On his first day as president, Joe Biden directed the Department of the Interior to review oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest untouched wilderness areas in the United States. The administration said on Tuesday that the licenses would be suspended pending an environmental and legal review.
It said it had “identified flaws in the underlying record of the decision supporting leases, including the lack of analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives” required under the National Environmental Policy Act, a decades-old law that is a mark of environmental standards.
To correct four years of inaction on climate change, Biden unveiled a series of measures to restore America’s standing as a leader on environmental issues. This includes rejoining the Paris climate agreement, revoking a permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, and announcing plans for… Cut greenhouse gas emissions in halfby 2030 and integrating climate risks into the financial system.
Oil companies and Republicans have long sought to exploit the oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area of more than 19 million acres of land home to endangered polar bears, caribou, and other wildlife that is considered sacred by Guichen’s indigenous communities.
Gina McCarthy, the White House’s national climate adviser, called the move an “important step forward” in fulfilling Biden’s pledge to protect the refuge, following the Trump administration’s decision to sell licenses in January against opposition from activists.
The Biden administration has also promised to end oil and gas leases on federal lands, in a sharp departure from the Trump era when environmental regulations and restrictions on energy producers were repealed.
Trump has sought to open part of the refuge — about 1.5 million acres along the coast — as part of a historic plan to encourage greater production of fossil fuels in the United States despite mounting backlash from environmentalists, big investors and the public.
Local officials opposed Biden’s move, saying it deals a severe blow to the regional economy and the industry on which Alaska depends heavily.
“Our oil and gas leases are valid and the federal government cannot withdraw them,” Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy said. “I oppose this attack on Alaska’s economy and will use all means necessary to undo this outrageous federal supremacy.”