Biden admin goes back to drawing board on oil leasing in Arctic Refuge

A file photo of a herd of caribou on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska.
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/AP File/The Canadian Press )

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it will formally reconsider a decision allowing oil lease sales across the northern coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The announcement will likely further delay or limit oil development in the refuge. It calls for a new study to “supplement” the 2019 environmental impact statement conducted by the Trump administration. It is expected to take about a year and a half.

Following the study, the Bureau of Land Management will issue a new decision on leasing in the refuge, according to a notice to be published in Thursday’s Federal Register.

Among the new alternatives to be considered are “those that would: designate certain areas of the Coastal Plain as open or closed to leasing; permit less than 2,000 acres of surface development throughout the Coastal Plain; prohibit surface infrastructure in sensitive areas; and otherwise avoid or mitigate impacts from oil and gas activities,” the notice says.

Complicating the the legal picture is that, in the final days of the Trump administration, the government issued leases in the refuge. The Jan. 6 lease sale produced $14.4 million in bids, mostly from the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Weak response to ANWR lease sale applauded by Yukon politicians, activists, CBC News

Finland: The world could transition entirely to cheap, safe renewable energy before 2050: Finnish study, Yle News

Norway:  Norwegian oil company Aker BP to drill along border with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: In Russian Arctic energy shift, Novatek might turn from LNG to ammonia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden will need twice as much electricity, Radio Sweden

United States:  ‘That’s the law’: Alaska Senator confronts land management nominee about ANWR, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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