On Monday. with gasoline prices still near an all-time high, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy, by reducing the land available for energy leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) back to the level set in 2013. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a record of decision confirming the reversal.
In June of 2002, former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt finalized a decision allowing 18.6 million acres, or 82%, of the NPR-A’s subsurface estate to be open for oil and gas leasing.
As we all know, pump prices have surged throughout President Joe Biden’s first 15 months in office. The average price of gasoline nationwide increased to $4.13 per gallon on Tuesday, pushing it near to an all-time high, according to AAA data.
In its announcement on Monday, BLM said, “Today’s decision ensures the NPR-A will be managed consistent with the 2013 (Integrated Activity Plan), while including certain more protective lease stipulations and operating procedures for threatened and endangered species, confirmed through consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.”
This decision reduces 7 million acres, or approximately 36%, of the oil-rich area designated by the Trump administration. The Trump administration decision had factored wildlife protection into its ruling, while the Biden administration’s decision was influenced by conservation.
According to the Department of Interior (DOI), “The Trump-era decision closed the Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas. It also implemented restrictions on another area to mitigate impacts on “caribou calving and important bird habitats”
At the time, former BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett said, “We’ve looked to open up some additional areas to leasing based on new information while also using management prescriptions to protect important wildlife, habitat, and subsistence uses.”
In the meantime, the Biden administration, in its lust to destroy fossil fuel energy for his green new deal, has paused oil and gas leasing in the Alaskan Artic National Wildlife Refuge and ditched a drilling project in Alaska that would have produced 100,000 barrels of oil per day, generated $10 billion in government revenue and created 2,000 construction jobs. Both of these moves by Biden represent reversals of Trump administration actions.
In addition, Biden has also canceled the Keystone XL pipeline permit, introduced fossil fuel regulations and his administration has proposed to make it harder for utilities to receive natural gas project approvals.
Earlier this month, the DOI finally complied with a June 2021 court order forcing it to resume federal oil and gas leasing, but reduced land available by 80% and hiked royalty rates for drillers. They have so far declined to comment.