Joe Biden gutted a key Donald Trump initiative on Wednesday in what might be a warmup for the 2024 Presidential election. American politics is a cold and dirty war, just like Trump’s oil fields. Here is the whole story.
On the day before he left office in 2021, and in the midst of helping instigate the January 6th Capitol riots, former president Donald Trump pulled off a couple of last-minute deals.
There, in the Oval Office for the last time (so far), Trump authorized seven leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.
Those weren’t just any leases, though. They were oil and gas leases that stood to ramp up the production of Alaska crude oil that had fallen dramatically in the previous three decades.
From a robust two million+ barrels of crude per day in 1988, Alaska is now down to just 500,000.
Drilling in Alaska
That number is probably still too high for environmentalists, but it’s nowhere near where Trump and other Republicans would like to see production levels.
Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior caved to the demand to keep gas prices from further jumps by approving a $7 billion ConocoPhillips drilling project in Alaska.
That felt like progress to big oil Republicans but drew criticism from environmental groups and even other nations who want the world to move away from fossil fuel.
It also put Biden in a tricky position because one of his major campaign promises was a vow to protect millions of acres of pristine Alaskan wilderness, including the ANWR.
That region is a natural habitat for polar bears, caribou, and other animals that aren’t found in the lower 48 states.
So there is little doubt that Trump’s initial move was partially a jab at Biden, even if it also served the stated purpose of ramping up oil production.
But now, the Interior Department and Biden have partially reversed course, striking back at Trump and also renewing their commitment to conservation in Alaska.
On Wednesday, the Interior announced that they were canceling all leases for the ANWR issued by the Trump administration.
Preserving the Arctic
The Interior Department also said they were prohibiting new leases on 10 million acres of the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve.
That means the land area available for companies and the Alaskan government to ramp up crude production just took a major hit.
In a related statement, Biden said that the move was all about preserving the environment and helping to curb the effects of global warming in the Arctic region.
But this move also has the political benefit of undoing more of Trump’s work. At the very least, that would mean he’d have more ground to make up if he were to return to the White House in 2025.
For the most part, environmental groups and Alaskan native groups were happy about the announcement and the lease cancellations.
But Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan sees the move as a major blow to the state’s finances.
He says citizens are fed up with Biden’s meddling with their economy.
With both oil and the environment at stake, this situation will no doubt be the subject of heated debate as the 2024 Presidential election nears.
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