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Biden administration suspends Trump-licensed oil and gas drilling in Alaska

Biden administration suspends Trump-licensed oil and gas drilling in Alaska

The political fight around the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is taking a new turn. Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland, who is responsible for protecting national parks and nature reserves, returned, Tuesday, to the program to exploit gas and oil fields launched by the Trump administration, on the northern coast of the United States, Alaska. For nearly thirty years, the fate of this 76,000 square kilometer natural region bounded to the east of the Canadian border has been the subject of a fierce struggle between Democrats and Republicans. While conservatives favor the economic arguments – job creation and energy independence in the country – Democrats oppose them in the name of protecting the environment.

“Legal loopholes”

Multiple legal loopholes Numbering the procedures for granting these concessions conducted by the Trump administration, according to Order Signed by the Minister of the Interior. Including analysis “Insufficient” Regarding environmental regulations for possible alternatives to these wells. The Biden administration wants to lead a “full scan” The environmental consequences of these processes. Before you decide to keep it as is, cancel it or impose additional measures.

The announcement echoes his campaign pledge, Joe Biden, to protect the nature reserve. From his early days in the White House, the president has taken a first step in that direction. A few hours after his inauguration, he signed endowment Concerning the granting of new concessions for oil and gas exploration in national lands and waters. Objective: To expose the many anti-environmental measures taken by its predecessor.

Despite some precautions by Barack Obama who banned any new gas or oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea, the Trump administration launched an offensive in the summer of 2017. The conservative Congress had passed a law authorizing oil and gas drilling in an area representing 8% of the refuge National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, where polar bears, wolves, caribou, and millions of migratory birds live side by side. Concessions to exploit various plots It was finally granted Donald Trump’s last minute. The final results of the December call for bids were not released until January 19, two days before his departure. It is now suspended.

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This announcement was well received by the Alaska Wilderness Association. The environmental NGO, which campaigns for the abolition of concessions, welcomes “Not in the right directionand study.that prioritizes adequate knowledge and consultation with indigenous peoples [comme les Gwinch’in, installés entre l’Alaska et le Canada, ndlr]».

Between environmental protection and economic pressures

However, the decision is far from impressed by the powerful American Federation of Gas and Oil Manufacturers (the American Petroleum Institute). “Policies intended to slow or stop oil and natural gas production on federal lands and waters will ultimately prove to be detrimental to our national security, environmental progress, and economic strength.One of its officials, Kevin O’Canlin, commented in a letter sent to AFP.

Despite his environmental promises and declarations, Joe Biden’s position on Alaskan mining and gas operations remains ambiguous. In the face of the economic crisis linked to Covid-19, the Democratic administration is advancing on the ridge and seeking funds. Thus, a few days before Debra Haaland’s announcement, the Department of Justice defended the oil and gas development project authorized by … Trump and proposed by ConocoPhillips[entreprise américaine spécialisée dans l’extraction, le transport et la transformation du pétrole]: This oil field located in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve (NPRA) located west of the area affected by the program voted by Congress in 2017, could allow production of 300 million barrels of oil, according to Le Washington Post.