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Trump Vows Reversal of Arctic Drilling Ban If Elected

Donald Trump promised Republican Senators this week to reverse a drilling ban for the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if he wins the November vote.

According to a Bloomberg report, Trump made the promise at a closed-door meeting, saying, per one of those present at the meeting “He opened it up, and Biden closed it down, and he said when we get back we’ll get it back open.”

The Biden administration this April finalized a new regulation aimed at restricting drilling in the area with the stated purpose of helping safeguard the health of America’s public lands by ensuring that the U.S. protects clean water and wildlife habitat, restores land and waters that need it, and makes informed management decisions based on science, data, and Indigenous knowledge, the Interior Department’s the Bureau of Land Management.

For that purpose, the BLM essentially banned oil and gas drilling across 13 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge although it did not include already existing oil and gas extraction projects in the area, such as the Willow project of ConocoPhillips that President Biden greenlit earlier in the year to much disgruntlement from his voter base.

The BLM move this year followed a plan to open up more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling by the Trump administration back in 2021. Per that plan, some 18.6 million acres would be open to energy exploration while 4 million acres would be put off limits to protect the habitats of vulnerable species.

Alaska is one of the oldest oil-producing regions in the United States, but lately, production has been on a steady decline, which has prompted authorities to look for ways to reverse the decline, which has affected the state's income.

Willow is the only recent project in the state that has gone ahead despite opposition from climate activists. These sued to have the project canceled but the court ruled in favor of the White House; decision to give the go-ahead to the project.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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