The Trump administration has on Monday August 17, 2020 approved an oil and gas leasing program within Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior, has signed a record of the Record of Decision which would determine the exact place for the oil and gas leasing in the 1.56-million acre refuge’s coastal plain, north of Alaska.
Speaking about the program, Bernhardt, in a statement, said,
“Congress directed us to hold lease sales in the ANWR Coastal Plain, and we have taken a significant step in meeting our obligations by determining where and under what conditions the oil and gas development program will occur.”
Meanwhile, following an approval of the program in 2017 by the Congress, the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management said in December of 2018 that wildlife would not suffer any harm if the drilling was done within the coastal plain area.
Mike Dunleavy, Alaska governor, speaking about the program said it came at the right time. He added that it would develop the state’s energy potential that he estimated at 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil reserve.
“Today’s announcement marks a milestone in Alaska’s forty-year journey to responsibly develop our state and our nation’s new energy frontier,” said Dunleavy.
However, the program has been severely criticized by environmental groups who promised to take legal action against it.
In her criticism of the move, Lena Moffitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, said,
“The Trump administration’s so-called review process for their shameless sell-off of the Arctic Refuge has been a sham from the start. We’ll see them in court.”
Similarly, in another dole of criticism, Alaska Wilderness League’s Executive Director, Adam Kolton, said,
“Our climate is in crisis, oil prices have cratered, and major banks are pulling out of Arctic financing right and left.”
“And yet the Trump administration continues its race to liquidate our nation’s last great wilderness, putting at risk the indigenous peoples and iconic wildlife that depend on it,” Adam added.
In his response to a question Fox News on Monday about going ahead with the drilling in Alaska, Mr. Trump suggested no definitive conclusion has yet been reached.
“We may or may not do it. We are looking at different things in Alaska. I have been very good to Alaska,” he said.