Posted BY: Teresa | NwoReport

In a significant move, the Biden administration has officially canceled oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced this decision, emphasizing that a thorough review had revealed multiple legal deficiencies in the lease sale process. This action marks a pivotal moment in environmental policy, as it means that drilling for oil in this ecologically sensitive region, often referred to as one of the most delicate landscapes on Earth, will not proceed. Haaland stressed the urgency of addressing climate change and its disproportionate impacts on the Arctic.

The initial lease sale was mandated by the 2017 Republican-led tax overhaul, which required the Bureau of Land Management to conduct two lease sales in ANWR before 2024. The first sale occurred during the final months of the Trump administration. Despite facing criticism from Democrats and environmental groups, the Biden administration had previously approved the ConocoPhillips project called Willow on Alaska’s North Slope, which is not affected by the recent cancellation.

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While a second congressionally mandated lease is still on the horizon, no specific timing has been provided. Notably, the 2021 lease sale generated a mere $14.4 million, significantly less than the initially touted $1 billion figure. Pressure from environmental groups and major banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs, refusing to finance projects in the region, played a role in this outcome.

In addition to the ANWR lease cancellations, Haaland also proposed regulations for the neighboring National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). These regulations would extend protections to 13 million acres already designated as “special areas,” limiting future oil and gas leasing and industrial development. Furthermore, they would require periodic public input and assessments every five years on whether to expand these protected areas. An outright prohibition on new leasing within more than 40 percent of the NPR-A is included in the proposal, encompassing vital habitats for polar bears, caribou, and migratory bird species.

In conclusion, the Biden administration’s cancellation of oil and gas leases in ANWR signals a commitment to environmental conservation and climate action. It also outlines a comprehensive plan to safeguard the neighboring NPR-A and its critical ecosystems from industrial development. These measures align with the administration’s broader strategy to address the pressing challenges posed by climate change.