Two out of three companies awarded Arctic Refuge oil leases in the government-mandated lease sale in January 2021 have backed out of the deal. Regenerate Alaska terminated their lease in June of 2020, while Knik Arm Services LLC, an Alaska-based company established in 2020, canceled its lease as of recent.
Knik Arm Services’ founder, Mark Graber, confirmed that the request had been to made to the federal government to cancel their oil and gas lease and the company asked for a full refund for the bid and subsequent rental payments.
“The bureau is directing the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to refund KAS’ full bonus bid and lease rental payment,” the Bureau of Land Management said.
This leaves the state agency, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), as the only remaining lease holder in the refuge—19 million acres of protected wilderness on Alaska’s North Slope. While the coastal plain is where oil-leased lands are located, it is known as the “biological heart” of the refuge because “hundreds of thousands of caribou migrate hundreds of miles annually to give birth there, millions of migratory birds flock there to nest and polar bears den on the coastal plain over the winter,” Environment America reported.
“This is yet more evidence that the January 2021 lease sale was a complete flop. It makes no sense to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge,” Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands campaign director, said. “Knik Arm Services and the oil companies have all arrived at the same conclusion that drilling in the coastal plain would be a bad business decision. AIDEA should now cancel their leases and leave the refuge to the caribou, birds and other wildlife who rely on the Arctic Refuge for survival. Going forward, we must ensure that the next foolish lease sale is never held.”