Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced it will cancel all seven remaining oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which were issued under a rushed and legally deficient leasing process during the Trump administration.
The Interior department also released a proposed rule to increase protections for designated Special Areas—landscapes particularly sensitive to oil and gas development—within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), an area along Alaska’s North Slope set aside for emergency oil drilling. This action fulfills a commitment made by the Interior department in March to establish maximum protection for designated Special Areas in the NPR-A.
The proposed rule would put 10.6 million acres—more than 40 percent—of the NPR-A off-limits to future oil and gas development. It would also protect 13 million acres encompassed by existing Special Areas by limiting future oil and gas leasing and industrial development in five Special Areas known for their abundance of wildlife.
“We are pleased to see President Biden making good on his promise to implement durable protections for the irreplaceable landscapes and habitats of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska,” Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala said in a statement following the announcement. “Wildlife such as caribou, grizzly and polar bears, and migratory birds all rely on these intact and undisturbed habitats which would be impossible to replace if they were disturbed and fragmented by oil and gas development.”
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Quote of the day
Protecting the largest space of undisturbed public lands in the U.S. and maintaining intact and healthy habitats for threatened wildlife must continue to be a top priority and we applaud the Biden administration’s unwavering commitment to conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.”
—Jennifer Rokala, Center for Western Priorities Executive Director, Center for Western Priorities
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(Featured image: Northeast National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Bureau of Land Management Alaska | Flickr)