Biden Cancels Alaska Oil Leases, Kills Jobs
In a controversial move, the Biden administration has canceled seven remaining oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, overturning sales initiated during the Trump administration. The Department of Interior’s decision also included proposing stronger protections against development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. While environmental groups cheered the cancellation, it sparked outrage among Republicans and some Democrats, who argued that the decision could negatively impact Indigenous communities and the state’s economy.
Proponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including Alaska’s political leaders, have long advocated for such activities due to their economic impact on Indigenous communities and the lack of alternative job opportunities in the area. The approval of the Willow oil project by ConocoPhillips Alaska, which can produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day on Alaska’s North Slope, had initially disappointed environmental groups. However, the cancellation of oil and gas leases demonstrated the Biden administration’s commitment to appeasing his party’s far-Left donors.
While Alaska’s political leaders have advocated for drilling in the refuge, opponents have urged Congress to repeal the leasing provision from a 2017 law and permanently protect the coastal plain from drilling. This debate highlights the clash between economic interests and environmental conservation in Alaska.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who faced criticism for her role in approving the Willow project, emphasized the importance of protecting this sensitive landscape. The administration’s decision aligns with its commitment to addressing the climate crisis and safeguarding the region’s unique natural wonders. However, a 2017 law mandates another lease sale by late 2024, and administration officials have indicated their intention to comply with this legal requirement.
While environmentalists celebrated the cancellation of oil leases, Alaska’s Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan denounced the move as part of a “war on Alaska.” The decision comes after the Biden administration issued a temporary moratorium on activities related to the leasing program, ordered a new environmental review, and addressed legal deficiencies associated with the Trump-era leasing program. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which holds several leases from the 2021 sale, filed a lawsuit over the moratorium, but a federal judge found the delay in conducting a new review reasonable.
The fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains a divisive issue, with advocates for both environmental conservation and economic development locked in a fierce debate. These lease cancellations are further proof that Joe Biden will happily sacrifice jobs and kneecap the American oil industry to curry favor with radical climate change activists. This effort to harm the domestic oil industry is even more indefensible given the current turmoil in the Middle East and Biden’s decision to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve last year.