President Joe Biden continued to follow through on his campaign pledge to enact leftist environmentalism this month when he suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
The decision was cheered by leftist environmental groups as a victory for wildlife and social justice, supposedly protecting indigenous tribes from the alleged devastation of oil and gas drilling hundreds of miles from their homes. Biden Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy celebrated the move as “an important step forward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
The Trump administration had opened the door to drill on the Refuges’ coastal plain, a nearly 1.6 million-acre stretch on Alaska’s north coast. The 1.6 million-acre patch along the north slope is less than 10 percent of the total refuge that stretches 19.6 million acres across northeast Alaska, a total about the size of South Carolina.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that below the surface of the north slope’s 1.6 million acres temporarily opened for leasing, known as the 1002 Area, lie between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If opened for operations, it could become the most productive oil field in the country at a time gas prices are soaring to seven-year highs under the new administration.
Yet on June 1, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order to bring leases to a halt, claiming “inadequate study” of the drilling’s impact by the prior administration. “The Secretary shall review the program and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, conduct a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program,” the order reads.
The Gwich’in Tribe, who live south of the massive wildlife refuge, claimed Biden’s decision to reverse course was a win for their “tribal sovereignty” by protecting the primary caribou herd in the region, a key regional food source.
“The Gwich’in Nation is grateful and heartened by the news that the Biden administration has acted again on its commitment to protecting sacred lands and the Gwich’in way of life,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff on the heels of Haaland’s
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