Biden cancels oil and gas leases issued by Trump in Alaska Arctic

The leases were sold in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:39 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Biden Administration says it is taking “major steps to protect Arctic lands and wildlife in Alaska.”

On Wednesday, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland authorized the cancellation of seven oil and gas leases in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Biden Administration also proposed a rule permanently banning oil and gas development in more than 10 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, or NPR-A.

On a call with reporters, Haaland said, “With today’s action, no one will have rights to drill for oil in one of the most sensitive landscapes on Earth. Climate change is the crisis of our lifetime, and we cannot ignore the disproportionate impacts being felt in the Arctic.”

Former President Donald Trump had issued nine leases in the Coastal Plain. On the first day of his presidency, President Joe Biden directed his Interior Department to review those leases. The agency is now moving forward on cancelling seven remaining leases, with two already ended.

In a statement, President Biden says these moves, “will help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife, while honoring the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on these lands since time immemorial.”

President Biden has been dealing with backlash from environmentalists since the controversial Willow Project was approved early this year. These moves will not stop that project from moving forward.

The president’s new proposal would also make sure the public has a say every five years if more areas need to be protected.

The president’s plan is receiving bipartisan backlash from Alaska’s congressional delegation.

The trio of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) say both moves “are in direct contravention to Alaska-specific laws, lack scientific backing or consultation with Alaska Native stakeholders, tribes and communities, and come at the worst possible time, geopolitically.”