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The Biden White House plans to cancel all oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until a further review of their environmental impacts are assessed, according to the New York Times Tuesday.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the paper reported citing two insiders familiar with the administration’s plans, will publish an order to formally rescind existing leases months after the new president mounted a White House crusade against fossil fuels on day one with moratoriums on new drilling in the Arctic and other federal lands.
Marcella Burke, an attorney who specializes in energy policy and is an alum of the Trump Interior Department told The Times the move to halt drilling in the more than 19 million-acre refuge was far from unexpected.
“Since the Carter administration, whether ANWR can be leased is determined by which party is in the White House,” Burke told the paper. “Developers in ANWR assume there will be a policy shift between Democrat and Republican administrations. But it’s not permanent, assuming there will someday be another party in the White House.”
The Biden administration’s animosity towards fossil fuels, featuring Haaland at the top, a climate activist-turned two-term congresswoman described as “Green New Deal Champion,” has promised to make survival harder for the industry with new restrictions which could last beyond a four or eight-year term.
A new environmental analysis may impose heavy restraints on development in the Alaskan region and possibly halt new leases altogether for the remainder of the administration.
President Donald Trump opened the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain, a nearly 1.6 million-acre stretch on Alaska’s north coast for oil and gas development in 2017 in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski wrote the language of the legislation to green-light projects now effectively canceled by the Biden White House.
Murkowski’s office did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.