Trump Administration Pushes Ahead With Devastating Oil Lease Sales In Arctic Wildlife Refuge
The Donald Trump administration has pushed ahead with its attempt to auction oil leases in a long-protected part of the Alaskan wilderness, but drawn in just three bidders.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is home to a number of species, including polar bears, caribou and wolves.
The coastal plain was put up for sale by the administration with the hope that oil revenue would pay for tax cuts. In support of the sale, conservatives argued that leases could bring in $900 million, half of which could be used for the government and half for the state.
On Wednesday, January 6, the push to drill for oil in the refuge ended with a lease sale that attracted just three bidders. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the lease sale raised a total of $14.4 million, just a fraction of the predicted amount.
Nearly all of this figure came from the Alaska state itself. A bid of $12 was made by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, an economic development corporation, The Guardian reports.
Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said the lease sale ‘was an epic failure for the Trump administration and the Alaska congressional delegation’.
‘After years of promising a revenue and jobs bonanza they ended up throwing a party for themselves, with the state being one of the only bidders,’ he added.
The land, which covers approximately 19 million acres, has been described as the US’ last great wilderness, as per BBC News.
Alaskan politicians have pushed for drilling in the refuge for decades, believing that it could lead to a major oil find.
Larry Persily, a longtime observer of the oil and gas industry in the state, told NPR the auction of a lease in the Alaskan refuge was unprecedented.
‘They held the lease in ANWR — that is history-making. That will be recorded in the history books and people will talk about it. But no one showed up,’ he said.
He said the low-turnout in bidders is evidence that the prospect of drilling in the refuge is not in the interest of oil companies: ‘It was, in the oil industry terms, a dry hole. A bust.’
‘They had the lease sale, the administration can feel good about it, but no one’s going to see any oil coming out of ANWR,’ he added.
Alaska’s Oil and Gas Association acknowledged that the auction results weren’t as ‘robust’ as predicted.
‘Today’s sale reflects the brutal economic realities the oil and gas industry continues to face after the unprecedented events of 2020, coupled with ongoing regulatory uncertainty,’ Kara Moriarty, head of the organisation said.
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