Arctic, Biden cancels the licenses granted by Trump: stop drilling in the protected area in Alaska

The White House confirms the stop to exploration licenses for oil companies that intend to drill the area ofArctic National Wildlife Refuge, until new data are disclosed on the environmental impact exploration activities. President Joe Biden keeps the promise made during his first week in office, when he announced a review for “alleged legal deficiencies” of the licenses granted by Donald Trump in the last days of his administration. On the other hand, it has been for four decades that governments republicans that have alternated to the White House have tried, in one way or another, to start oil drilling in theArctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest of the 16 National Wildlife Refuge dell’Alaska. A wild area of ​​approx 8 million hectares, untouched for over 30 years and home to polar bears, gray wolves, caribou, moose, migratory birds and other wildlife. An incalculable heritage which, incidentally, is heating up three times faster than the rest of the Planet.

Attempts to drill from the 1990s to todayBill Clinton had vetoed the 1995 to a Republican plan that authorized drilling. Later, the president George W. Bush had made drilling in the country’s largest national wildlife refuge a pillar of its energy policy, but i democrats they finally stopped the plan in 2005. Ten years later, in January 2015, the former president Barack Obama, interrupted any geological study for the exploration of hydrocarbons in those territories, extending theArctic National Wildlife Refuge from 5 to over 8 million hectares. A couple of years later, however, he would arrive at the White House Trump. Thus, in 2017, the Congress granted the authorization for oil activities in the area and in December 2018 the Office for the management of the territory of the Interior established that the drilling it could be conducted within the coastal plain without damaging the fauna wild. Finally, in the summer of 2020, the US Department of the Interior gave the green light to drilling for oil and gas, arguing that the decision would bring new ones jobs. And this is precisely how, during these four decades, the war of the hydrocarbons she managed to split the community native: on the one hand the Inupiat, who live close to the coast and for whom the oil industry represents the possibility of new jobs and, on the other hand, i Gwich’in living in the south and fighting for the protection of those territories considered sacred.

Trump’s latest move – On which, in November 2020, there was the acceleration of the outgoing president Donald Trump which, after removing the status of protected area to the national forest Tongass, one of the largest rainforests in the world, was also willing to sign the start of drilling within the protected area Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So the White House, despite the imminent settlement of Biden who had repeatedly said he was against it, hastened to publish the requests for candidacies for the company energy interested in buying the rights for trivellare in an area of ​​about 600 thousand hectares. The sale of the rights, however, was not very successful. Only 11 tracts of territories went up for auction, yielding less than 14 million dollarscertainly less than the government hoped Trump. And the majority were awarded to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state agency, while large companies (see ExxonMobil e Chevron) showed no interest.

Biden’s (kept) promise and the oil war – As expected, splits the decision of Biden to suspend the sale of drilling rights in Alaska, waiting for a revision definitive of the tycoon’s latest measures. Because on the one hand there are interests of oil companies that promise jobs and secure income for the inhabitants of the area, on the other hand there is the risk of to change forever a habitat unique as never before against the climate change that the fossil energy industry fuels so much. “This action serves no other purpose than to hinder the economy of theAlaska and to put ours at risk energy security “ the Republican senator said Lisa Murkowski, the only woman elected to Congress from Alaska. But the White House defends his choice.

Joe Biden believes that the national treasures ofAmerica are the cultural and economic foundations of our country ”, he commented Gina McCarthy, councilor of the White House for the weather, explaining that the decisions of Trump “They could have changed the character of this special place forever”. It will be there turning point definitive? Difficult to say, given that theArctic is rich in hydrocarbons. In the area of shelter faunal it is estimated there are about 11 billion barrels. Yet there are several reasons that have led to a lack of interest from big companies: from the highs extraction costs in a remote area without streets ed infrastructure, to the position expressed by several American banks, not willing to finance the exploration of hydrocarbons in the park, fearing negative effects on their reputation.

(pictured: Alaska, archive image)

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