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The Biden administration has canceled seven oil and gas leases for the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The decision overturns ones made by the Trump administration, which awarded the leases.
In a move that was certainly not welcomed by Republicans, the federal government also proposed strengthened protections for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, limiting the acreage that could be used for oil and gas development, the AP has reported.
The decision should make environmentalists happy, although just a few months earlier the same government gave the go-ahead to a new oil project in Alaska.
The $8-billion oil project, led by ConocoPhillips, was awarded to the company by the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management in 2020.
The project could deliver 160,000 bpd of crude, the BLM said at the time, with reserves estimated at between 400 and 750 million barrels. The lifetime of the project was estimated at up to 30 years in 2019.
The Biden administration approved the highly controversial project in March this year sparking the outrage of environmentalists after pledging to clip the wings of the U.S. oil and gas industry.
The Conoco oil project’s approval was challenged in court by two environmentalist groups on the grounds that it would exacerbate climate change but a federal judge dismissed it, saying the plaintiffs had failed to prove that Willow would cause irreparable harm.
With its latest move for Alaska, however, the federal government might win back some favor with the environmentalist lobby.
“Alaska is home to many of America’s most breathtaking natural wonders and culturally significant areas. As the climate crisis warms the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the world, we have a responsibility to protect this treasured region for all ages,” the U.S. President said in comments.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com