WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Tuesday suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversing a drilling program approved by the Trump administration and reviving a political fight over a remote region that is home to polar bears and other wildlife — and a rich reserve of oil.

The order by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland follows a temporary moratorium on oil and gas lease activities imposed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order suggested a new environmental review was needed to address possible legal flaws in a drilling program approved by the Trump administration under a 2017 law enacted by Congress.

After conducting a required review, Interior said it “identified defects in the underlying record of decision supporting the leases, including the lack of analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives″ required under the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law.

The remote, 19.6 million-acre refuge is home to polar bears, caribou, snowy owls and other wildlife, including migrating birds from six continents. Republicans and the oil industry have long been trying to open up the oil-rich refuge, which is considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich’in, for drilling. Democrats, environmental groups and some Alaska Native tribes have been trying to block it.

Environmental groups and Democrats cheered the Interior Department order, while Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation slammed it as misguided and illegal.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an Interior agency, held a lease sale for the refuge’s coastal plain on Jan. 6, two weeks before Biden took office. Eight days later the agency signed leases for nine tracts totaling nearly 685 square miles (1,770 square kilometers). However, the issuance of the leases was not announced publicly until Jan. 19, former President Donald Trump’s last full day in office.  read more…


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  1. That side of the slope in Alaska is run by Exxon and they have a huge plant right on the border with ANWAR. It is called Point Thompson, and they will not tell you this, but they likely run horizontal drilling wells directly under ANWAR from point Thompson. I’ve worked at many remote oil fields, but not Point Thompson, because that was built by CH2MHill, and they built Point Thompson long after I worked for them. They made all the gas compressors far too small in sizing calculations, so Point Thompson cannot produce to capacity. Not even close.

    Anyways, I did work on the Conoco side of the North Slope, over on projects at Alpine, which is far to the West. The biggest problem up there I could gather, besides the usual oil industry corruption, is that all the gas taken out of the ground is burned off in huge flares I was told that the gas they burned off from Alpine alone in one day could heat all of Alaska for a year.

    So, basically, the liberals are doing far more harm than good. If they made a natural gas pipeline to send all the natural gas from this area of North Alaska down to port of Valdez where it was pressurized into liquid form and shipped out, you could have enough natural gas to heat much of America. However, the Sierra Club and all these other liberal establishments fought the Alyeska pipeline and they are fighting a natural gas pipeline.

    The only major disaster was the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the 80s. That was due to using a single hulled vessel.