The Trump administration on Wednesday found few takers at its sale of drilling leases in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with an Alaska state agency emerging as the sole bidder for most of the acreage.
The sale received 16 bids in total for 12 of the 22 tracts offered. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was the sole bidder on at least eight of the 12 tracts.
Three of the bids were described as “incomplete” by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Kate MacGregor, who revealed them during a live broadcast.
The sale, at which more than 1 million acres were offered, generated more than $14.4 million in high bids, MacGregor said.
It was among the most high profile of a slew of last-minute efforts by President Donald Trump’s government to expand fossil fuel and mineral development in the United States before leaving office in two weeks, building on his years-long drive to maximize domestic production over the objections of environmentalists.
Due to concerns about a lack of participation in the sale, the board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority held an emergency meeting two days before Christmas at which it authorized spending up to $20 million on ANWR leases.
Related stories from around the North:
Greenland: Greenland issues new exploration, prospecting licences to Anglo American, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Minister downplays environmental impact of planned mine in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: The Arctic Railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic
United States: U.S. judge allows oil, gas lease sales in Alaska’s Arctic refuge, The Associated Press