June 1 (UPI) – The Biden administration on Tuesday suspended all oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Ministry of the Interior announced the suspension as it performs a “comprehensive analysis” of the potential impacts of drilling in the region, which covers 19.6 million acres and is home to unique wildlife and vast amounts of oil and natural gas.
The move follows an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office on January 20, which imposed a temporary moratorium on all oil and gas-related activities at the refuge after identifying “legal flaws presumed “.
In Tuesday’s secretariat order calling for the suspension, Home Secretary Deb Haaland wrote that these legal loopholes, “including the inadequacy of the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act,” resulted in prolonged frost.
The Trump administration issued a “call for applications” in late 2020 asking companies to claim concessions on tracts of the refuge’s coastal plain that will be sold by the Home Office and officially announced the issuance of the leases on the 19th. January, former President Donald Trump’s last day in office.
The coastal plain covers 1.6 million acres of the refuge, which is home to caribou, polar bears and more than 280 species of other wildlife as well as between 4.25 billion and 11.8 billion technically barrels of oil. recoverable, according to an estimate from the Bureau of Land Management.
Following the analysis announced Tuesday, the Biden administration could impose additional development restrictions or cancel leases issued by Trump.
Tuesday’s decision also comes after the Biden administration supported developmentt from ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, west of the refuge, prompting a reaction from environmental groups.