Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that opened new oil development in Arctic Alaska

The Biden administration will revert to "a 2013 Obama administration plan issued that protected about half of the reserve."

Image Credit: ekvals/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced it will reverse a policy passed by the Trump administration that authorized leasing and oil development of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Official notice of the change will be filed in a federal court in Alaska, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) is the site of “important new oil discoveries and developments”—none of which “will be affected by the decision to revert to the Obama-era management plans,” Reuters reported.

“We applaud the Biden administration for walking back Trump’s disastrous assault on Alaska’s public lands,” Dan Ritzman, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Water Wildlife Campaign, said. “After a year of devastating extreme weather events and unprecedented high temperatures in Alaska, the last thing we need is a massive expansion of oil drilling in the Arctic.”

While the Trump approved plan would have opened up more than 80 percent of the 23-million- acre area to oil drilling, the Biden administration will revert to “a 2013 Obama administration plan issued that protected about half of the reserve,” Reuters reported.

No new lease sales of the NPR-A were conducted under the Trump administration.

“This decision reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of reviewing existing oil and gas programs to ensure balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations,” the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement.

Currently, the state produced 448,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

“But in order to achieve the administration’s ambitious climate goals, it’s not enough to go back to the Obama-era status quo,” Ritzman said. “We urge the Biden administration to build on this progress by acting immediately to phase out all new leasing for fossil fuels on our public lands.”


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