Biden Administration to bar drilling in Alaska

September 7, 2023
A family of polar bears. Polar bears are one of the species inhabiting the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

With today’s action, no one will have the rights to drill for oil in one of the most sensitive landscapes on earth.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said about President Biden’s canceling of oil and gas leases on 13 million acres of Alaska.

The Big Picture: The Biden Administration announced it will prohibit oil and gas drilling across 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (a region about the size of Indiana) as well as cancel all drilling leases occurring in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will not stop the $8 billion Willow oil drilling project nearby, which is set to "produce about 576 million barrels of oil over 30 years," according to Axios.

In a statement released by President Biden, he states "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. Canceling all remaining oil and gas leases issued under the previous administration in the Arctic Refuge and protecting more than 13 million acres in the Western Arctic will help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife, while honoring the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on these lands since time immemorial."

In contrast, some Alaska Native groups contend that their communities need drilling for jobs and revenue to help support public services.

Background: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was opened for drilling under President Trump after being untouched for over 30 years. According to The Washington Post, the area "…provides habitat for more than 270 species, including the world’s remaining Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, 250 musk oxen and 300,000 snow geese."

Read More:

Biden Administration to Bar Drilling on Millions of Acres in Alaska

Biden cancels Trump drilling leases in Alaska's largest wildlife refuge

by Jenna Lee,