WASHINGTON D.C.: The White House has announced it will suspend oil and gas leases for exploration and drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge issued during the final days of the Trump administration.
Officials also said they would conduct an administrative review of the suspended leases.
The Trump Interior Department auctioned the leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in January, despite objections from environmentalists and indigenous groups.
During his campaign, Biden had pledged to protect the 19.6 million-acre reserve.
Biden’s Interior Department said it had notified the leaseholders, which includes an Alaska state agency.
The administrative review, which involves examining “legal deficiencies” in the Trump administration’s environmental analysis of leasing in the refuge, will determine whether the leases would be granted, voided, or be subject to mitigation measures, the White House said.
However, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which holds seven of the leases, said it did not believe that the earlier environmental analysis was inadequate.
Alaska state officials expressed outrage at the Biden administration moves, saying leasing in the refuge was required by a 2017 law that opened up oil and gas development in the region.
“Our leases for oil and gas are valid and cannot be taken away by the federal government,” Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement.
“I oppose this assault on Alaska’s economy and will use every means necessary to undo this egregious federal overreach.”