Judge Allows Oil, Gas Lease Sales in Alaska's Arctic Refuge

Judge denies request to halt Trump administration from issuing oil leases in ANWR

Bids were submitted by the end of 2020.

He says companies are right to stay away as drilling in ANWR would not make business sense. Winning bids must be vetted in a government review process that typically takes months, though Trump administration officials are racing to formally issue the leases before Biden is sworn in January 20. "But no one showed up". The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains 78,000 square kilometers (30,100 square miles) of rolling tundra and wetlands in the Alaska North Slope region that's home to an incredible array of American biodiversity, including polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribous, wolves, eagles, lynxes, wolverines, martens, and beavers. It also potentially sits atop billions of barrels of oil, according to federal estimates.

It was not clear heading into the sale what level of interest there would be among companies.

Persily took the sale as evidence that while drilling in the refuge remains a long-held dream of some politicians, it is no longer treasured by oil companies.

In 2017, the Trump administration's tax cutting bill contained a provision to open up the ANWR coastal plain for drilling.

Kara Moriarty, president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said while the sale's results "may not have been as robust as we might have expected, industry still supports future access to this area".

The sale of 11 tracts on 600,000 acres netted about $14 million, a tiny fraction of what Republicans initially predicted it would yield. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was the sole bidder for at least eight of the 12 leaflets. But the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden could overturn this requirement, especially with Democrats now having control of the Senate. But the amount raised is nowhere near what was projected.

"I laughed out loud". But here's the message: 'You will never ever drill in the Arctic Refuge.

BLM said it received complete bids on half of the 22 tracts offered, and 50% of the acreage.

Of the two small companies that did win leases, one is Regenerate Alaska, a subsidiary of Australia-based 88 Energy. Frank Murkowski, recently pushed the state to bid, citing the lack of industry interest.

"Today's coastal plain lease sale is a continuation of this administration's disregard for human rights, climate science, and public process", a large coalition of environmental groups and indigenous organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a joint statement [PDF].

The oil leases are still not finalized. Since the KIC permit is still pending action by BLM the court is unable to review it, siding with the argument made by federal lawyers that selling leases does not also authorize seismic activity.

As Breitbart News reported, the oil leasing only impacts a very small portion of the vast refuge.

The Arctic refuge in northeast Alaska was once seen as prime territory for oil development, given the potential of massive conventional crude reserves that could flow for decades. He's likely to have support from a Biden administration. She was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

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