US administration cancels oil and gas leases in Alaska nature reserve
The administration of US President Joe Biden has canceled the permits for the development of oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, which were issued in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidential term.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
It was also suggested banning new leasing of oil and gas development in an area of 10.6 million acres, which is over 40 percent of the 23 million acres that were allocated earlier for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
The announced initiatives also cover the northern part of Alaska, which not only has oil and gas resources, but also serves as the habitat for many species of animals such as polar bears, reindeer, water birds, and others. Environmentalists have repeatedly said that drilling in the nature reserve will harm the unique Arctic ecosystem.
Representatives of the energy sector and government of Alaska supported opening the region for oil and gas production believing that it would create jobs and give a boost to the economy of the state, which to a large extent depends on the oil industry.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration approved a major project Willow by ConocoPhillips to develop oil in Alaska, which angered some Democrats and environmental activists. The new proposals of the US Department of the Interior do not concern Willow.