Deb Haaland, the Department of Interior Secretary, has recently suspended gas and oil leasing in the Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under the guidance of Biden.
The Department of the Interior released a statement earlier this week indicating that it had “suspended all activities” related to the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, at least until “a comprehensive analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)” has been conducted.
The Department of the Interior also noted that during the period of suspension and review, it will be determined whether or not the leases should be voided, reaffirmed, or “subject to additional mitigation measures.”
The statement also noted that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was established under the Trump administration, which began to implement a gas and oil program in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge, specifically its Coastal Plain. Moreover, BLM already worked with NEPA through creating the “Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).” After creating this statement, the BLM then held lease sales on January 6, 2021, which resulted in the issuance of decades-long leases on nine specific tracts of land that collectively cover over 430,000 acres.
However, after Biden took over the Oval Office, he worked towards undermining these leases from his first day in office, namely with Executive Order 13990. This order effectively directed the Department of the Interior “to review oil and gas activity” in Alaska. In the resulting review, the Department of the Interior claimed that various “defects” were found within “the underlying Record of Decision supporting the leases,” and that one such defect apparently includes “the lack of analysis on a reasonable range of alternatives” that Trump’s BLM had provided to the NEPA through its aforementioned EIS.
The latest blow to part of America’s economy comes on the heels of Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, along with all the jobs that went with it. Additionally, Biden has also issued a pause on natural gas permits for use on federal lands, representing another major blow to the American energy industry.
The Senators of Alaska, who ironically voted in favor of confirming Haaland, are now verbally assailing the Department of Interior’s decision.
This action serves no purpose other than to obstruct Alaska’s economy & put our energy security at great risk. Alaskans are committed to developing our resources responsibly & have demonstrated our ability to do so safely to the world. https://t.co/BrCV0FGMDe
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) June 2, 2021