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Biden suspends oil leases at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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The Interior Department on Tuesday announced the suspension of all Arctic National Wildlife Refuge leases pending an environmental analysis, kicking off one of the Trump administration’s historic energy initiatives.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s order freezes 10-year leases on nine tracts covering more than 430,000 acres, which were leased on January 6, following a decision in August to oil-and-open Alaska’s Coastal Plain. In sales was provided by the Bureau of Land Management. -Gas exploration.

“Secretariat Order 3401 directs the Department to undertake a comprehensive environmental analysis to review the potential impacts of the program and to address legal deficiencies in the environmental review of the current leasing program under NEPA. [the National Environmental Policy Act],” said in the statement.

The move is in line with Mr Biden’s pattern of decisions, emphasizing US energy independence, which the Trump administration called for the first time since 1957 to reduce oil and gas activity in 2019 in the name of combating climate change. had achieved.

Democrats and environmentalists, who accused then-President Trump of rushing lease sales before leaving office, applauded the decision.

“This is the right move by the Biden administration,” said Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. “We must protect our treasured public lands and be good stewards of those vulnerable places that are fortunate to have us in this country, especially in the midst of a climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee said the lease suspension leads the country to an over-reliance on foreign oil, noting that gas prices are at their highest level in seven years.

“Democrats don’t care about high gas prices, they only care about appeasing their fundamentalist base,” NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement. “Suspending drilling at ANWR will kill American jobs and make us more dependent on Middle Eastern oil.”

In its statement, the Interior cited Mr Biden’s order earlier in the day instructing the department to “review oil and gas activity in the Arctic refuge”.

Other high-profile energy moves by Mr. Biden include revoking the Keystone XL pipeline cross-border permit; His decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and his suspension of oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

Whether to allow drilling in the ANWR’s 1002 field, where oil reserves are estimated to be between 4.3 billion and 11.8 billion barrels, has been debated for decades, with Congress deadlocked in 2017 by passing legislation for oil and gas drilling. broke it.

Mike Dunleavy and the state’s GOP congressional delegation in favor of opening the ANWR, including Alaska Gov., said they believed in the necessary environmental protection and said the Coastal Plains area represents just 1.57 million acres of the 19.3 million acres of refuge.

“We are deeply disappointed by this decision,” said Alan Weitzner, executive director of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which grabbed six of the nine leases, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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