Sunday, June 20

Biden revokes Trump’s permits to search for oil in an Arctic sanctuary

Polar bears in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

Polar bears in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

The largest of the natural sanctuaries of America will once again be preserve closed to the exploitation of hydrocarbons, at least until the White House changes its political color again. The Joe Biden Administration has suspended this tuesday the tenders awarded by its predecessor to extract natural gas and oil of Arctic Wildlife Refuge, an immense place located in the northern Alaska and known for its extraordinary biodiversity. The Democrat’s decision suspends the opening of the park to the oil industry, adopted by Donald Trump in the last months of his term, and will serve to quell some criticism from environmentalists of his environmental management.

Biden is wisely approaching the goal of move the country away from fossil fuels to fight the climate change and reach the neutral emissions in 2050. Although it has reintegrated the United States into the Paris Climate Agreements y prohibited, as soon as he came to power, the granting of new licenses to extract hydrocarbons on federal landsEverything seems to indicate that he is also trying to satisfy some moderate Republicans who he might need politically in the future. His Justice Department recently defended in court the so-called Willow Project, a multibillion dollar plan approved by Trump to extract 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day for the next 30 years at the northernmost tip of Alaska. A decision that has been interpreted as a gesture towards Lisa Murkowski, one of the rival senators more prone to bipartisan pacts.

It is not the only decision in that sense because it has also preserved the tenders opened by its predecessor in Wyoming, despite the opposition they face from various environmental groups. In the case of the Arctic refuge, which serves as a sanctuary for caribou, polar bears and others protected species, has done the opposite. His Administration will revoke the dozen licenses granted so far, after more than five million hectares of the natural park went up for auction in January. That bid generated less interest than expected. Only 11 tenders were sold, which cover a total of 223,000 hectares. The majority without competition and at a starting price of $ 25 per 0.4 hectare, which led to the Alaska state authorities buying the majority of the auctioned licenses.

Weeks before the tender the large American and Canadian banks announced that they would not finance the hydrocarbon prospecting in the Arctic refuge, thus bowing to pressure from indigenous peoples and environmental organizations. Neither did the low oil prices and the overabundance of crude oil that prevails in the market. The victory in this case of the green movement is only temporary, since the criteria in Washington towards environmental protection usually change radically when the Republicans come to power.

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