Last-minute White House decision opens more Arctic land to oil leasing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced on Monday that it has made final its plan to open up vast areas of once-protected Arctic Alaska territory to oil development.

By Yereth Rosen

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released its plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), a 23 million-acre swath of land on the western North Slope. The record, signed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Dec. 21, allows lease sales to proceed under relaxed standards.

The decision is one of a number of pro-drilling actions taken by the Trump administration in its final days. On Wednesday, the bureau is scheduled to auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the eastern North Slope.

The plan allows oil development on about 80 percent of the reserve. Under Obama-era rules, about half of the reserve was available for leasing, with the other half protected for environmental and indigenous reasons.

The Trump plan allows leasing in vast Teshekpuk Lake, the largest lake in Arctic Alaska and a haven for migrating birds and wildlife. Teshekpuk Lake has been off-limits to leasing since the Reagan administration.

“We are expanding access to our nation’s great energy potential and providing for economic opportunities and job creation for both Alaska Natives and our nation,” said Casey Hammond, principal deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior.

It is unclear whether making this acreage available will boost Alaskan oil production, which peaked more than 30 years ago at 2 million barrels per day. The state now produces roughly 500,000 bpd of crude.

The NPR-A decision got a swift response from environmentalists who have already sued to overturn the plan.

“On its way out the door, this administration is sticking to its blunt and destructive approach to management solely for oil development,” said David Krause, assistant Alaska director for The Wilderness Society, in a statement. (Reporting By Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Trump is not only a political disaster, he is an ecological disaster too.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    ‘Disaster’ is an understatement for the Trump administration and his acolytes ! I hope Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland has the gumption (where he is apparently fleeing too … the day before Bidens inauguration) to deploy sufficient security to apprehend this clown upon arrival or the day after he loses his presidency status, for perpetrating ‘crimes against humanity’ ! The only place (besides Russia) where he will be welcome is where his son-in-law spends the bulk of his time … is Saudi Arabia and MBS ! And… he must hope MBS does not give instructions for his dismemberment and dissolving in acid !

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