President places temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities
By MARY KAUFFMAN
January 23, 2021
On January 6, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held the first lease sale for lands in the 1002 Area of ANWR. On January 19, BLM announced the signing and issuing of leases on nine of the tracts that received qualifying bids from the lease sale. Results of the January 6 lease sale are available on BLM’s website.
Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy said in a prepared statement the announcement to shut down development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) should come as no surprise. As a candidate, Joe Biden campaigned on stopping oil and gas development on federal lands. Make no mistake about it, President Biden appears to be making good on his promise to turn Alaska into a large national park.
"Alaska does responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic better than anyone, and yet our economic future is at risk should this line of attack on our sovereignty and well-being continue. Development in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, building roads to resources, the mining of critical minerals & rare earths, connection to life saving air transport for villagers in King Cove and more are all in the hands of an Administration that looks at Alaska as a territory or colony, as opposed to an equal State in the Union," said Governor Dunleavy.
Dunleay said, "During the 20 years I spent in rural Alaska, I saw firsthand the pain we cause when we deny our fellow Alaskans the right to pursue opportunity. Not only do these projects have the potential to responsibly develop Alaska’s abundant natural resources – of which there is a demand that would be driven to countries with lower environmental standards – these projects bring good-paying jobs, quality healthcare, and lifechanging possibilities to communities who need it most."
Governor Dunleay said he is prepared to use every resource available to fight for Alaskans right to have a job, and have a future by taking advantage of every opportunity available to us.
“[Wednesday], President Biden announced that he will pick up where the Obama administration left off by conducting a review of multiple rulemakings that are critical to Alaska and by placing a temporary moratorium on leasing activities in the Coastal Plain. At a time when the United States, and especially Alaska, is struggling to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, I am astounded to see that the Biden administration’s “day one” priority is put our economy, jobs, and nation’s security at risk,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Murkowski said, “Not only has Alaska proven time and time again we have the highest environmental standards when it comes to our responsible resource development but this right was guaranteed by the federal government more than 40 years ago when ANILCA was enacted. It is time to hold true on this long overdue promise. In 2017, I was proud to author Title II of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which opened just 2,000 acres of our 365 million acre state to responsible energy development. In the past month, we have seen significant progress with the sale, signing, and issuing of leases in the non-wilderness 1002 Area. The Biden administration must faithfully implement the law and allow for that good progress to continue.”
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) rebuked President Joe Biden on the floor of the Senate Friday after the new administration issued a series of orders and regulatory reviews targeting Alaska and other resource development states, the energy sector, and thousands of blue collar American jobs. Sullivan said the actions taken by the Biden administration this week include issuing a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), revoking the 2017 presidential permit authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and suspending all new oil, gas, and mining authorizations for activities on federal lands and waters for 60 days. Sullivan said that these actions will cause significant hardship and job losses for potentially thousands of Alaskans and Americans who are already struggling from the economic challenges caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The first few days of the new Biden administration have seen an unprecedented assault on resource development and energy jobs, an attack on the men and women - working men and women with good wages - who produce really important resources for this great nation and now for other countries because we export a lot of these resources,” Senator Sullivan said. “It is an assault on good energy jobs, good resource development jobs that have been the bedrock of millions of middle-class Americans for decades,” said Sullivan.
"It is not surprising, though no less disappointing, that President Biden is continuing Obama-era attacks against Alaska. By reviewing federal rules that Alaska benefits from, and by placing a moratorium on energy development in ANWR, President Biden has surrendered to his party's environmental extremists. I want the President to know this: Alaskans have shown for decades that energy development and environmental protection can go hand in hand. These executive actions serve only to hinder our state's economy, stifle energy independence, and prevent the Alaska Native community of Kaktovik from responsibly using their lands," said Congressman Young (R-AK).
Young said, "When President Carter signed ANILCA into law over 40 years ago, Alaskans were promised the right to drill on the Coastal Plain. We have conducted an extensive environmental review and successfully carried out lease sales. This is not the time to roll back our progress in ANWR, especially amid an economic downturn caused by a global pandemic. I call on President Biden to honor the law and the will of Alaskans, and allow our state's energy projects to continue uninterrupted."
Senator Josh Revak (R-Anchorage), the new chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, said in a prepared statement, “Alaskans – already suffering from the impacts of the pandemic and years of anemic economic growth – received the grim news Wednesday that the new federal administration intends to throttle our young state in its crib."
Revak said, “It is widely acknowledged that Alaskans develop our natural resources using the highest environmental standards in the world. Why this new administration wasted no time trying to kill our jobs, stifle new state revenue, and prevent Alaskans from benefiting from our abundant natural resources – without even the basic courtesy of first asking us to dinner – is beyond me.”
As part of a flurry of Executive Actions that include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Joe Biden took immediate action to protect the lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by placing a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities on its coastal plain. Fifteen years ago, Joe Biden called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge one of our nation's last pristine natural areas. He ran for president and was elected on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, which included making the protection of the Arctic Refuge a day one priority.
Wednesday’s actions by President Biden also call for a complete review the removal of Roadless Rule protections in the Tongass National Forest; the push for more oil and gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in Alaska’s western Arctic; and, the allowance of unsportsmanlike hunting methods in Alaska national preserves.
Adam Kolton, executive director, Alaska Wilderness League said in a statment, “Our long national nightmare of environmental carnage ends today [Wednesday]. We can now the return to the bipartisan tradition of valuing our most cherished and iconic landscapes as the national treasures that they are instead of targets for exploitation and short-term profit."
“It’s time now to turn the page and look forward to an agenda that prioritizes protection of places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Tongass National Forest not only for their wilderness and wildlife values, but the Indigenous peoples and cultures they support. And with a new administration that once again respects and values science, we can again acknowledge the realities of the climate crisis and advance solutions that will help create clean energy jobs, lift up frontline communities, and lead to better management and stewardship of our public lands," wrote Kolton.
Kolton wrote, “Alaska’s wild lands and waters were too often in the bullseye for an anti-conservation agenda these past four years. We are thrilled that the incoming Biden administration has placed Alaska’s public lands among its top conservation priorities. We look forward to working together to realize Alaska’s significant potential to protect America’s resources at the landscape level, a key strategy for safeguarding vital biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis."
The Gwich’in Steering Committee on Wednesday also extended their thanks to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for their immediate action to protect their sacred lands, and said they look forward to working with the incoming administration to protect their sacred lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“Mashi’ choo, President Biden. The Gwich’in Nation is grateful to the President for his commitment to protecting sacred lands and the Gwich’in way of life,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.
Demientieff said, “We have fought so hard to protect these lands and the Porcupine caribou herd, trusting the guidance of our ancestors and elders, and the allyship of people around the world. It is so important that our young people see that we are heard, and that the President acknowledges our voices, our human rights and our identity. We know there’s so much work ahead, and are thankful that the President will take early action to help protect these lands forever.”
Tuesday, the outgoing Trump administration issued oil and gas leases for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite the lease approval process generally taking months, Tuesday’s issuance comes just two weeks after the Trump administration held its first Arctic Refuge lease sale. The Gwich’in Nation said this was an epic failure of a lease sale that, despite $1.8 billion in revenue promised by drilling advocates in the lead up to the 2017 Tax Act, yielded little more than $14 million, less than 1% of that amount.
Tthe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the signing and issued of leases on nine of the tracts that received qualifying bids from the first lease sale for lands in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Results of the January 6 lease sale are available on BLM’s website.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the signing and issuing of leases on nine of the tracts that received qualifying bids from the first lease sale for lands in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Results of the January 6 lease sale are available on BLM’s website.
“The Alaska Delegation has been fighting for decades for the opportunity to pursue responsible resource development in the 1002 Area. This announcement – that leases have now been awarded – is significant and meaningful for Alaska’s future,” the Alaska Congressional Delegation said. “It is imperative that President-Elect Biden recognize this for what it is – a balanced program that will provide substantial economic benefits to Alaska over time, without harming the environment or worsening climate change – and for his administration to faithfully implement the law, rather than to ignore and subvert it. We thank Secretary Bernhardt, Director Padgett, and countless Alaskans for recognizing our state’s pivotal role in America’s energy sector, and for working tirelessly to help reach this milestone.”
Adam Kolton, executive director, Alaska Wilderness League said of the signing and issuing of leases by the Trump administratation, “This lease sale isn’t legitimate and won’t stand. It was based on an illegal environmental review, faulty revenue projections and sidelined science. We look forward to President-elect Biden stopping the liquidation of this national treasure and restoring protections for its iconic wildlife, wilderness and the Indigenous peoples who depend on it.
Wednesday, President Biden placed a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities.
The second title of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became law in December 2017, authorizes the surface development of up to 2,000 federal acres of the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (roughly one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR). The U.S. Geological Survey estimates this area contains 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil that could be sent to states like California, which has grown significantly more dependent on foreign oil as Alaska production has declined. Alaskan oil and gas production will continue to play a key role in maintaining American energy security.
Alaska has a strong record of responsible resource development. The footprint of drilling pads on the North Slope has declined by 80 percent since the 1970s, while new and safer technology has expanded the reach of underground drilling by 4,000 percent. The result is that less land is being used to develop resources than ever before; many modern sites cover just a few acres and are miles apart. The Central Arctic Caribou herd, which ranges throughout Prudhoe Bay, has seen its population grow for sustained periods alongside responsible development on the North Slope.
ANWR spans 19.3 million acres, an area of land roughly equal in size to South Carolina, in northeast Alaska. In 1980, Congress designated more than eight million acres within ANWR – an area of land significantly larger than Maryland – as federal wilderness as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. That same legislation set aside the 1.57-million acre Coastal Plain for petroleum exploration and potential future development, which is supported by a majority of Alaskans.
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