U.S. cancels public comment period for Alaska oil and gas lease sale

In this file photo, caribou from the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate onto the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. The cancellations will delay the date of a 2021 lease sale in the region of the refuge, if it proceeds at all. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Associated Press)
Announcement follows Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order pausing oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters

The United States’ Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would cancel a public comment period for a proposed oil and gas lease sale in federal waters off Alaska.

The announcement Thursday came after President Joe Biden signed a Jan. 27 executive order that paused new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters as the government reviews the program.

Biden’s order was done in conjunction with other actions that limited oil and gas activity in Alaska, such as temporarily halting oil and gas work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and delaying an oil exploration project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The public comment period was scheduled to last through March 1. It was intended to inform an environmental impact study on the lease sale. Online virtual meetings scheduled for next week were also cancelled.

The cancellations will delay the date of the 2021 sale, said John Callahan, a spokesman with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“If a decision is made to restart the lease process, then we’ll reopen the comment period,” Callahan said.

Conservation groups praise cancellation

The lease sale covers about 4,100 square kilometres in federal waters in Cook Inlet west of the Kenai Peninsula and was proposed by the Trump administration to be held later this year, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The BOEM estimates that the federal waters contain 810 million barrels of economically recoverable oil.

Conservation groups in Alaska praised the cancellation as a win in the fight against climate change.

“Alaska is already reeling from the effects of climate change, and we have to break the Big Oil stranglehold if we want to keep the things that make Alaska unique,” said Bob Shavelson, with the Cook Inletkeeper, in a statement.

Tim Dillon, the executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, said he hopes the state’s federal representatives can ensure the Cook Inlet lease sale takes place.

“All of our natural resources seem to be a target right now, but this shouldn’t come as secret to anyone” because Biden signalled these intentions during his campaign, Dillon said.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: RBC latest bank that will not directly fund drilling projects in Alaskan Arctic refuge, CBC News

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, Yle News

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: Biden signals plans to halt oil activity in Arctic refuge, The Associated Press

2 thoughts on “U.S. cancels public comment period for Alaska oil and gas lease sale

  • Monday, August 2, 2021 at 09:22

    The story of the US wanting to buy Greenland from Denmark emerged after the Wall Street Journal last week revealed that President Trump was “interested” in buying the island near the North Pole and had asked his aides to find out. about this.

  • Sunday, January 21, 2024 at 07:27

    This can end negatively for Alaska and the whole world. Does the U.S. government really not care about the climate and the environment? I recently read in research papers that oil and gas extraction in Alaska can lead to serious ecological consequences. We need to fight for our rights and protect nature.

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