Environmentalists have repeatedly raised the issue that drilling in the nature reserve will damage the unique ecosystem of the Arctic. Their opinion has finally been heard…or not?
The Biden administration canceled the last remaining leases for oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Those seven leases were previously sold by former President Donald Trump.
“As the climate crisis warms the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the world, we have a responsibility to protect this treasured region for all ages,” stated Biden in his Statement on Protecting Arctic Lands and Wildlife in Alaska.
It was also suggested to prohibit new oil and gas leasing in 10.6 million acres. It is more than 40 percent of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve.
The announced initiatives affect the northern part of Alaska, which not only has oil and gas reserves but is also a habitat for many species of animals. Polar bears, reindeer, waterfowl and many other creatures live here.
Alaska's energy industry and government officials supported opening the region to oil and gas production. They believed it would create jobs and stimulate economic growth. However, they overshadowed any significant environmental problems that would arise.
With the cancelation of oil and gas leases in Alaska, environmentalists have been able to celebrate only a small victory. After all, earlier this year, the Biden administration approved ConocoPhillips' Willow Project. The Willow Project is a massive oil drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve.
Some Democrats as well as environmental activists are criticizing this project. Moreover, the above new proposals of the U.S. Department of the Interior do not apply to the Willow Project.