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Trump Administration Rushes To Sell Drilling Rights To Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

by : Emily Brown on : 16 Nov 2020 18:46
Trump Administration Rushes To Sell Drilling Rights To Arctic National Wildlife RefugePA Images

The Trump administration is rushing to sell the rights to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge following the president’s loss to Joe Biden. 

Biden will take over the White House following his inauguration in January 2021, but Trump’s push to complete the deal could complicate Biden’s climate and conservation plans.

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The move to allow drilling in the refuge, which provides habitat for more than 270 species, was mandated by Congress in 2017, allowing the area to be opened to oil and gas activity as part of its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Arctic National Wildlife RefugePA Images

The law required the department to hold two lease sales in the refuge by 2024, and things gained momentum in August this year when Trump’s administration announced its plans for the drilling. 

With Biden now confirmed to be taking over, Trump’s government has called for oil and gas firms to pick spots where they could like to drill.

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The ‘call for nominations’, as reported by The Washington Post, per the National Post, is to be published tomorrow, November 17, and allows companies to identify tracts to bid on during an upcoming lease sale on the refuge’s coastal plain.

Donald TrumpPA Images

The Interior Department aims to then hold the sale before Biden takes office in January. It’s unclear whether any leases sold could be formally issued before Biden’s inauguration, but the advancements in the development could complicate Biden’s efforts to retreat from the plans.

Chad Padgett, the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska state director, commented on the call for nominations in a statement, saying:

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Receiving input from industry on which tracts to make available for leasing is vital in conducting a successful lease sale.

This call for nominations brings us one step closer to holding a historic first Coastal Plain lease sale, satisfying the directive of Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and advancing this administration’s policy of energy independence.

The Arctic National Wildlife RefugePA Images

David Hayes, a former deputy Interior secretary who leads New York University’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, noted that the moves Trump makes now will impact Biden when his term begins.

He explained:

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Everyone has to be vigilant over the next 60-odd days because the administration can create more work for the people coming in. They can take additional actions here that will put sand in the gears of the early Biden administration.

Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, expressed concerns that the Interior Department is trying ‘to jam this massive seismic program through in the final minutes of the Trump administration’.

Donald TrumpPA Images

As well as selling the drilling rights, the Trump administration is reportedly aiming to finalise a plan to open up the vast majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to drilling, and to limit the definition of what constitutes ‘critical habitat’ for endangered species.

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James Goodwin, an analyst with the Center for Progressive Reform, claimed that the ‘story for the last four years’ has been about ‘tearing down’ agencies and ‘making them as useless as possible’. As a result, Biden’s administration will be left having to ‘clean up this huge mess’ before it can start implementing its own agenda.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Arctic, Donald Trump, Environment, Joe Biden, Oil

Credits

National Post
  1. National Post

    Trump administration races Nov. 21 deadline to develop Arctic National Wildlife Refuge