On the last full day of his term, Trump grants Arctic drilling leases | Climate news

Tenants are still expected to apply for permits from the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden before wells can be drilled.

The administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday it had issued drilling leases on more than 162,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Area (ANWR) , keeping a promise made to supporters of fossil fuels during the president’s last full review. day at the office.

The official issuance of the leases by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) comes a day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to protect the habitat of 7.9 million hectares (19 , 6 million acres) for polar bears and caribou and to ban the new leasing of oil and gas on federal lands.

Tenants are still expected to apply for permits from the new administration before they can drill wells, among other challenges.

The administration’s plan to open the safe haven to oil and gas exploration is being challenged in court by environmentalists, indigenous groups and democratic-led states, and several big banks have said they will not fund of projects in the region.

BLM’s Alaska office said it had issued nine of the 11 leases that received bids at the agency’s January 6 auction. He is still working on the rescue of the other two, a spokesperson said.

An Alaska state agency, which was the sole bidder for most of the land sold, obtained seven leases. The other two were awarded to small independent firms Knik Arm Services LLC and Regenerate Alaska Inc, BLM said.

In a statement, BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett called the show “a milestone and a clear indication that Alaska remains important to meeting the nation’s energy needs.”

Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, one of the groups that filed a lawsuit to block the ANWR drilling plan, called on Biden to take “strong and decisive action to ensure that no oil rig or seismic truck ever strips an inch of it. great wild nature ”.

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