Biden administration goes back to drawing board on oil leasing in Arctic Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-Alaska)

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will formally reconsider the decision allowing oil lease sales across the northern coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The announcement will likely further delay or limit oil development in the refuge. It calls for a new study that will be a “supplement” to the 2019 environmental impact statement conducted by the Trump administration. It is expected to take about a year and a half.

Following the study, the Bureau of Land Management will issue a new decision on leasing in the refuge, according to a notice to be published in Thursday’s Federal Register.

Among the new alternatives to be considered are “those that would: designate certain areas of the Coastal Plain as open or closed to leasing; permit less than 2,000 acres of surface development throughout the Coastal Plain; prohibit surface infrastructure in sensitive areas; and otherwise avoid or mitigate impacts from oil and gas activities,” the notice says.

Complicating the the legal picture is that, in the final days of the Trump administration, the government issued leases in the refuge. The Jan. 6 lease sale produced $14.4 million in bids, most from the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Alaska Public Media

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