Biden cancels Trump’s oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: report

Biden cancels Trump’s oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: report
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Biden announced a full ban on imports of Russian oil and energy products as an additional step in holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images).

President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday announced that it is ending leases for oil drilling authorized by former President Donald Trump "in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and seek to protect more than 10 million federally owned acres in the state's petroleum reserve from new development," Politico's Ben Lefebvre reports.

"The move — the latest step in decades of political jousting over the Arctic refuge — could help assuage the ire environmentalists and some native Alaskan tribes felt toward the White House for approving ConocoPhillips' massive Willow oil project earlier this year in northern Alaska," Lefebvre writes.

"But it comes at a risky time for President Joe Biden, with a surge in crude oil prices this week threatening to drive up the cost of gasoline. And it will almost surely meet resistance from the oil industry and powerful Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key vote that the administration has taken pains to court, as well as fellow Alaskan Sen. Dan Sullivan, who blasted the move as denying economic opportunities to Indigenous people," Lefebvre notes, adding that Sullivan alleged that '[Biden administration officials] love to talk about racial equity, racial justice, environmental justice, taking care of people of color, but one big exception — the Indigenous people of Alaska. They screw 'em every time.'"

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United States Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Lefebvre continues, "cited the threats that the fast-changing Alaskan climate posed to the Indigenous groups in the decision to block the production of the fossil fuels that are warming the planet."

Haaland explained that "with climate change warming the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, we must do everything within our control to meet the highest standards of care to protect this fragile ecosystem."

Lefebvre added that "some local tribes praised the move to protect ANWR from the drilling and construction of pipelines that they had feared would threaten wildlife in the northeastern corner of Alaska."

Per Lefebvre, "The Arctic Village and Venetie Tribal governments want to extend deep gratitude to the Department of Interior for making the just decision to cancel all Arctic Refuge leases," two communities said in a press statement. "This is a significant step towards true, meaningful protection of these lands that are so vital to the survival of our people now and into the future."

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Lefebvre's full analysis is available at this link.

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