Biden Administration Orders New Review of Drilling in the Arctic

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The Biden administration will conduct a new environmental review for potential oil and gas development at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Initial review during the Trump presidency.

The Department of the Interior will submit a statement of intent to the Federal Register on Wednesday, which begins the process of executing an additional Environmental Impact Statement for the oil and gas leasing program on the refuge’s 1.6 million acres of coastal plain. The statement says the analysis will include “addressing the shortcomings” in the original Trump-era impact statement.

The announcement of the new review, which began with a 60-day period of public comment, is the latest move by President Biden’s administration to reveal some of the pro-sounding successes of the Trump White House. Mr. Biden opposes oil development in the refuge, which spans 19 million acres and is home to migratory caribou, polar bears and other wildlife, mostly unspoiled.

The coastal plain, thought to lie above reserves containing billions of barrels of oil, has been forbidden for oil development for decades. That changed in 2017 when the Republican majority in Congress approved an oil and gas leasing program.

The Bureau of Land Management, a Department of the Interior agency, published an environmental impact statement in 2019. Final approval was given in September, and some of the land in the bunker was leased during the last days of the Trump administration.

But two months ago, the Department of the Interior issued an order that infuriated pro-development Alaskan lawmakers. suspended the leases Awaiting a new review. Among the flaws in its original impact statement, the Emir said, it failed to properly analyze a number of alternatives to renting less space in the shelter, as required by federal environmental laws.

Environmental and conservation groups welcomed the announcement of the new review.

Kristen Miller, acting executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, called it “good news” but said it was necessary to preserve the refuge permanently.

“Until these leases are canceled and the Arctic Refuge drilling authority is reversed, one of the wildest places left in America will remain under threat,” he said.

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