Biden administration cancels controversial oil leases in Alaska wildlife refuge

September 06, 2023

The Biden administration on Wednesday confirmed it will cancel seven controversial oil and gas leases in an Alaskan wildlife refuge issued at the very end of the Trump administration 

The administration had previously announced in June of 2021 that it would review the leases, which give the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority the rights to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

That refuge is home to caribou herds, wolves and more than 200 species of birds, as well as land considered sacred to the Gwich’in people.

“On day one of this administration, President Biden directed us to look at the oil and gas leases sold in the refuge by the previous administration,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on a call with reporters Wednesday. “What we have found in our analysis is that the lease sale itself was seriously flawed and based on a number of fundamental legal deficiencies.”


Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who told The Hill earlier Wednesday he had been informed by the Interior Department that the cancellation was coming, celebrated it as a win.

“It is good news. It’s not mission accomplished, but it preserves a path to permanent protection of the Arctic refuge,” said Huffman, who has introduced a bill to permanently protect the refuge from drilling. 

“Ecologically there’s no place like it. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge is incredibly important from a biodiversity standpoint,” he said. “We shouldn’t be opening up public lands to any new fossil fuel development let alone a uniquely pristine place like the Arctic refuge.”

Huffman, who is among the progressives who were enraged by the Willow Project’s approval, said that while he is pleased with the latest actions, he still opposes the prior decision. 

“It doesn’t make my consternation over Willow go away, but it’s good news that stands alone,” he said. 


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Source: The Hill