Even as gas prices keep going up, President Joe Biden found a way to keep it going higher. On Tuesday, the President suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In contrast, Former President Donald Trump approved these leases during his administration.
Suspending Oil And Gas Leases In The Arctic Refuge
In a statement, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the move. “The Department of the Interior today suspended all activities related to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending completion of a comprehensive analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Department is notifying lessees that it is suspending oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge, pending the review, to determine whether the leases should be reaffirmed, voided, or subject to additional mitigation measures.” it read.
The Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain is a 1.6 million-acre stretch of tundra on Alaska’s North Slope. The area opened to oil and gas development as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) drafted the language included in the bill. It gave authority over the leasing program to the secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management.
Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, played only a marginal role in the environmental review process.
The coastal plain is approximately the same size as South Carolina and only carries a few roads and residents. Opening the area for drilling only happened after decades of legal fighting.
Alaska Slams the Decision
Republican Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy slammed the Biden administration following the announcement. He issued a statement condemning the decision. The suspension of leases in the ANWR 1002 Area is contrary to federal law.
In particular, Dunleavy points to section 20001 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017). Section 20001 clearly assigns what the Interior Secretary can do.
“The Secretary shall establish and administer a competitive oil and gas program for the leasing, development, production, and transportation of oil and gas in and from the Coastal Plain,” it said. However, it doesn’t give the President nor the Secretary the power to decide otherwise.
Alaska Performs Responsible Oil and Gas Development
Dunleavy insisted that the state’s leases for oil and gas are valid. He also said that the federal government cannot arbitrarily take them away.
The governor said he opposes the “assault on Alaska’s economy” and will use any legal means to stop it. In addition, he defended Alaska’s oil industry. The state’s industries only practice responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic.
Plus, it follows the strictest environmental standards available anywhere in the world. Despite this, Dunleavy said that the federal government wants to stop them.
Dunleavy also said that Biden’s actions prove one thing. It proves the administration’s failure to comprehend the global demand for oil and gas.
“If Alaska continues to be denied its constitutional right to safely develop resources, countries with much lower environmental standards will gladly fill that void with significant environmental impacts.
Shutting down our lands was not what William Seward intended when Alaska was founded and we are not going to allow the Biden administration to turn Alaska into a giant national park,” he said.
Gas Prices Are Up, Up, and Away
The announcement comes at a time when gas prices under the Biden administration post new highs every month since he took office.
Since the beginning of this year, gas prices are up by 60 cents per gallon. During the Memorial Day weekend, gas prices on average cost $3.04 a gallon. This is 16 cents more than a month ago and $1.08 per gallon higher than last year.
Watch the Fox 59 News reporting that President Joe Biden suspends oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic refuge:
Do you agree with the Biden administration’s decision to suspend oil and gas leases in the Arctic while gas prices are high? What do you think is the message being sent here?
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