Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Biden administration to abandon Arctic drilling expansion during Trump era

The Biden administration on Monday took the first step towards canceling a Trump-era plan to skyrocket fossil fuel production in the Alaskan Arctic.

The Bureau of Land Administration has announced its intention to revive the 2013 plan for the 23 million acre Alaska National Oil Reserve, adopted during the administration of President Barack Obama. The move, if finalized, would ultimately reverse a plan rewritten by the Trump administration at eleven o’clock, which opened up an additional 7 million acres of reserve for potential oil and gas leases.

“This decision reflects the priority of the Biden-Harris administration to overhaul existing oil and gas programs to balance America’s state lands and waters for the benefit of present and future generations,” the bureau said in a statement.

Established in 1923 on the northern slope of Alaska, the National Oil Reserve is the largest tract of federal land in the country and home to vast oil and gas fields.

The Obama administration has limited oil drilling to about half of its reserves. but the industry-friendly Trump administration increased the area of ​​land available for development from 11.8 million to 18.6 million.This included opening the door for future drilling around Lake Teshekpuk in the northeastern corner of the reserve, an important habitat for polar bears. reindeer and migratory birds.

BLM noted in a statement that while it aims to return to the Obama-era plan, it will retain “some of the more protective lease provisions and operating procedures for endangered and endangered species” from those rewritten during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Kristen Miller, acting executive director of the Alaska Wildlife League conservation group, welcomed the actions of Biden’s team to reverse the Trump-era expansion, which, she said, “threatened local communities with shrinking traditional hunting grounds, relocating wildlife and degrading air quality from for the development of oil and gas “.

“Now, especially in the lead-up to public comment on its America America initiative, we hope the administration realizes the potential of America’s largest single public land to provide landscape-level ecosystem protection and maintain a healthy and diverse wildlife and habitat for the future.” She said in her statement on Monday.

The American the Beautiful Initiative aims to protect 30% of America’s land and waters by 2030 to combat climate change and the extinction crisis.

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