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Biden Enforces New Restrictions on Oil and Gas Projects in Alaska

Biden Enforces New Restrictions on Oil and Gas Projects in Alaska

Apr 19, 2024

Biden Enforces New Restrictions on Oil and Gas Projects in Alaska

The Biden administration announced on Friday the restriction of new oil and gas drilling on over 13 million acres of land in the western Arctic region. This decision targets the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A), specifically affecting areas such as Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and Peard Bay Special Areas. These regions are recognized for their globally significant wildlife habitats, home to species such as grizzly and polar bears, caribou, and migratory birds.

"Alaska’s majestic and rugged lands and waters are among the most remarkable and healthy landscapes in the world, sustaining a vibrant subsistence economy for Alaska Native communities. These natural wonders demand our protection," stated President Joe Biden.

While the new rule does not alter existing leases or currently authorized operations in the NPR-A, it sets a general closure to new leasing and industrial development projects. Exceptions exist under the rule that allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to authorize new leasing and infrastructure under certain conditions, such as when existing wells may be draining federal or Indian oil or gas resources, or when projects are deemed essential and no practical alternatives exist.

John Podesta, the Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy, praised the action, saying, "Today’s historic actions to protect lands and waters in the western Arctic will ensure continued subsistence use by Alaska Native communities while conserving these special places for future generations."

This policy follows the contentious approval of the Willow Project, a ConocoPhillips drilling operation in the NPR-A, which the administration scaled back last year. The announcement of the new rule coincides with the Interior Department's recent increase in fees for oil and gas lease operations nationwide.

However, the new rule has faced opposition from Republican lawmakers, particularly Alaska Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, who argue that it undermines U.S. energy independence and increases reliance on oil from countries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. Senator Murkowski expressed concern about energy insecurity, saying, "When you take off access to our resources... this is the energy insecurity that we’re talking about."

Senator Sullivan called the rule "clearly illegal" and accused President Biden of disregarding the views of Alaska Native leaders. The American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC) also criticized the new restrictions, with CEO Anne Bradbury suggesting that the rule exceeds BLM's authority and indicating that the organization is considering steps to challenge it.

The Epoch Times Article


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