President Biden’s administration earlier this week announced a suspension of oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) pending an environmental review.
The move reverses a drilling program approved by the Trump administration toward the end of his term.
The region is home to polar bears and other wildlife, but also a rich reserve of oil.
“The action reverses one of former President Donald Trump’s signature efforts to expand fossil fuel development in the United States,” Reuters reports.
It also “delivers a setback to the Alaskan state government which had hoped opening the enormous refuge would help revive its declining oil industry.”
Biden to suspend Trump-era drilling leases in Alaska https://t.co/zCqIvn7xhE
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 1, 2021
Biden Halting Alaska Drilling Leases
President Biden’s Interior Department announced in a statement that there would be a review to examine “legal deficiencies” in the previous administration’s environmental analysis of leasing in ANWR.
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White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said Biden was “grateful for the prompt action” by the department in suspending the Trump-era leases.
Environmentalists no doubt rejoiced at the news, but not everybody was thrilled by the administration’s actions.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) vowed to take legal action.
“Our leases for oil and gas are valid and cannot be taken away by the federal government,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “I oppose this assault on Alaska’s economy and will use every means necessary to undo this egregious federal overreach.”
.@GovDunleavy to Neil on President Biden suspending Arctic drilling leases in Alaska: It doesn’t strengthen America, it doesn’t help Alaska, and it doesn’t stop climate change pic.twitter.com/cg2dpNPliB
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) June 2, 2021
Trump-Era Law Might Stymie Biden’s Effort
President Trump had boasted of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil and gas leasing in a list of his accomplishments on the White House website in January.
On his last days in office, Trump’s administration announced that it officially issued the oil drilling leases.
“ANWR is a big deal that Ronald Reagan couldn’t get done and nobody could get done,” Trump said in an interview with Fox & Friends in August.
President Biden wants to end oil drilling leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but a Trump-era law passed in 2017 could foil his plans. https://t.co/1qjTp6O0n6
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 3, 2021
The New York Times reports that a law passed by Republicans during former President Trump’s term could thwart Biden’s efforts.
“A law passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 requires the president to hold two lease sales in the refuge before the end of 2024,” they write.
“President Donald Trump held the first; now legal experts say the Biden administration could be locked into holding a second sale.”
Imagine Biden having to hold a lease sale in ANWR exactly as his predecessor did.
The White House has suspended oil drilling leases in the Arctic.
On June 1, 2021, the Biden administration reversed a program approved by Trump’s White House that would have allowed oil and gas companies to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. pic.twitter.com/BAX0yDmWcd
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 3, 2021
Biden’s latest move could kill jobs in Alaska.
“Thousands of Alaskans are employed in our oil industry, and their livelihoods depend on the good-paying jobs created by our state’s reserves,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) when plans were being finalized to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling.
Biden has already shown that he’s willing to kill American jobs to placate environmental extremists, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline upon taking office.
Had Biden committed to developing ANWR’s resources, tens of thousands of jobs would be created to supply 1.45 billion barrels of oil per day with government revenue estimated to be as much as $440 billion.
“Biden’s decision isn’t just an attack on Alaska jobs, but also an attack on the United States’ energy independence,” says the Republican National Committee.
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