Biden reverses Trump’s move to open more oil drilling in the Arctic

A female polar bear and two tiger cubs are seen on the Beaufort Sea coast in Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service | Reuters

The Biden administration on Monday reversed a Trump administration plan to allow the government to lease more than two-thirds of the country’s largest public land for oil and gas exploration.

Bureau of Land Management decision would shrink the amount of rentable land in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, an area of ​​about 23 million acres that is home to wildlife such as reindeer and polar bears.

The decision goes back to the Obama administration’s plan to allow fossil fuel extraction up to 52% of its reserves, compared with the Trump administration’s effort to open 82% of the land to drilling. It will also restore some environmental protections to designated areas of the reserve, including Lake Teshekpuk, a wetland complex teeming with unique wildlife.

The move comes after a number of oil and gas permits were approved by the Bureau of Land Management for drilling on public lands. refuse to its lowest number under Biden’s administration earlier this year.

In 1923, former President Warren G. Harding set aside the reserve as an emergency oil supply for the United States Navy. In 1976, the Naval Petroleum Reserve Production Act designated the area specifically for oil and gas production and moved it under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management.

Storage generated more than 56 million dollars in oil and gas rental revenue in 2019, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil and gas production at the reserve has the potential to release more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon released nationally in 2019. , according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Biden administration’s reversal was not enough to solve the climate crisis and end new fossil fuel extraction.

“More drilling in the Arctic also means more oil spills, more pollution to communities and more harm to polar bears and vulnerable wildlife,” Monsell said in a statement. other. “Biden officials can and must use their power to help us avoid catastrophic climate change and support the transition to a fair, renewable economy.”

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