The administration of President Joe Biden suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The administration’s action halts a Trump-era drilling program instituted after Congress approved oil and gas production in a small portion of ANWR as a provision of a tax law passed in 2017.
The 2017 law made good on the promise made by President Jimmy Carter to the state of Alaska in 1980, when he locked up 19.2 million acres of Alaska’s land as a federal wildlife refuge, to allow a small part of its coastal plain to be developed with appropriate environmental safeguards.
Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland’s June 1 order temporarily suspends oil and gas activities in ANWR, where leases have been sold, while the agency reviews “alleged legal deficiencies,” in the environmental review approved by DOI under Trump. Although the ban on activity is called “temporary,” Haaland set no deadline for completing the review.
Political Fight Over Energy
The Biden administration is attempting to force Americans to use only politically favored energy sources, says Robert L. Bradley Jr., Ph.D., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research.
“The history of ANWR is creeping toward a half century,” said Bradley. “Back in the 1970s, geologists noted the potential for a great supply of oil in the area, and the region was greenlighted for development until the Exxon Valdez wreaked and leaked in 1989.
“It wasn’t until Donald Trump became President that, as part of his pro-development program, plans to develop ANWR’s coastal plain gained new life,” said Bradley. “Biden’s plan is death by a thousand cuts, reimposing ‘Nil, Baby Nil’ on ANWR is a symbolic victory as well as a practical one for the forced energy transformationists.”
Harming American Families
Biden’s suspension of ANWR’s oil and gas leases puts the U.S. government’s reputation at risk, says Anthony Watts, a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, which co-publishes Environment & Climate News.
“In an era of rapidly rising energy costs since the Biden administration took office, this is just another example of its ‘tone-deafness’ towards the American people, who are facing soaring costs just to keep the family car running,” Watts said. “With ANWR leases gone, the market is already reacting with even higher gasoline prices based on fears of future shortages and possibly more restrictions.
“Additionally, this order may be illegal since contracts have already been agreed to and signed,” said Watts. “It raises the question, ‘Is the U.S. government as good as its word?’ With Biden in control, the answer is apparently ‘No.’”
Kenneth Artz (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Dallas, Texas.