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Biden suspends Donald Trump-era oil and gas drilling in some areas of the Arctic

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Kuldeep Singh
Kuldeep is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. He writes about topics such as Apps, how to, tips and tricks, social network and covers the latest story from the ground. He stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. Always ready to review new products. Email: kuldeep (at) revyuh (dot) com

The new Democratic government has decided to issue this order to block leases, citing problems with the environmental review process

US President Joe Biden has decided to suspend oil and gas leases in the so-called Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thereby correcting one of the most controversial decisions made by the previous Donald Trump administration on environmental matters.

“In light of alleged legal deficiencies (…), including the insufficiency of the review required by the National Environmental Policy Law, the Secretary of the Interior shall, as appropriate and in accordance with the law, establish a temporary moratorium on all Government activities related to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, (…) in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

This is decreed by the order published Tuesday by the Department of the Interior on an issue that has confronted Democrats and Republicans for four decades and that could end up in court.

The Trump administration auctioned off the right to drill in the refuge’s coastal plain, home to hundreds of thousands of migratory caribou and waterfowl, as well as polar bears from the southern Beaufort Sea, just two weeks before President Biden’s inauguration.

The new Democratic administration has decided to issue this order to block leases, citing problems with the environmental review process.

According to the order, “a new and comprehensive analysis of the possible environmental impacts of the oil and gas program will now be carried out.”

The “review of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program (…) has identified multiple legal deficiencies,” the regulation insists, including the lack of adequate analysis of a reasonable range of requirements established by environmental legislation.

In the regulations issued by the head of the Interior, Deb Haaland, a temporary moratorium is requested on all activities related to these leases in order to carry out “a complete new analysis of the possible environmental impacts of the oil and gas program.”

Republicans and the oil industry have long tried to open up the oil-rich refuge, which is considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich’in, for drilling.

However, Democrats, environmental groups and some Alaska Native tribes have been trying to block it.

The Interior Department’s order was cheered by Democrats and environmental groups, while Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation criticized the move, describing it as misguided and illegal.

Kristen Miller, acting executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, welcomed the suspension of the Arctic leasing programme, saying it was the result of a flawed legal process under Mr Trump.

She said that more action is needed as she called for a permanent cancellation of the leases and repeal of the 2017 law mandating drilling in the refuge’s coastal plain.

The drilling mandate was included in a massive tax cut approved by congressional Republicans during Mr Trump’s first year in office.

She added:

Suspending these leases is a step in the right direction, and we commend the Biden administration for committing to a new programme analysis that prioritises sound science and adequate tribal consultation.

Alaska senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, along with representative Don Young and governor Mike Dunleavy, who are all Republicans, criticised the Interior Department action in a joint statement.

Mr Sullivan said suspending the Arctic leases “goes against the law, facts, the science and the will of the Native communities on the North Slope”.

He added:

It is nothing more than a naked political move by the Biden administration to pay off its extreme environmental allies.

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