The Trump Administration is set to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling for the first time by approving a drilling program on Monday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.
The oil drilling program will allow for a first oil lease auction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to take place “right around the end of the year,” Secretary Bernhardt told The Journal.
Despite continuous environmental concerns and protests, the U.S. Department of the Interior believes that oil and gas drilling can be made in a responsible and sustainable manner and that drilling-related infrastructure would take just 0.01 percent of the 19 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Congress mandated in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that the Department of the Interior offer at least two lease sales for oil and gas development by 2027 in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge. The Department made available the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in September 2019.
“Congress gave us a very clear directive here, and we have to carry out that directive consistent with the directive that they gave, and consistent with the procedural statutes,” Secretary Bernhardt told WSJ.
In June, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for a management plan of America’s Western Arctic.
“The world remains mired in a global pandemic and the oil markets are experiencing continued volatility, yet this administration has once again opted to barrel forward with unnecessarily aggressive oil and gas development,” the Alaska Wilderness League said back in June.
According to the organization, nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
Plans for lease sales in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge may go ahead, but the oil industry may not be too keen to drill amidst vocal opposition and a growing number of banks refusing to lend money for new drilling in the Arctic, including Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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