trump oil drilling Bernhardt arctic national wildlife refuge department of interior land leases sale coastal plains oil gas billions environment indigenous groups GOP biden ANWR
US Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images
 This undated photo shows the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. In 2003, The U.S. Senate voted not to allow drilling for oil in the refuge. Now, the Trump administration is planning to sell leases for drilling access to oil and gas companies in the region’s northeast Coastal Plain.

The Biden administration is seeking a two-month delay on cases challenging the Trump administration’s plans to open the Arctic to drilling.

On his first day in office, President Biden ordered a moratorium of drilling activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) “in light of the alleged legal deficiencies underlying the program, including the inadequacy of the environmental review.”

Four different groups, including environmentalists, the Gwich’in people and several state attorneys general had sued over environmental analysis used by the Trump administration to justify opening the area to drilling.

“Defendants request a stay of 60 days so that new Administration officials may evaluate the litigation and determine whether and how the executive order and the policy direction described therein may impact the government’s position in this case,” the Department of the Interior wrote in its brief.

The Trump administration approved leases for drilling in ANWR on its last full day in office. That followed a rushed lease sale that raised just over $14 million, well below the billion-dollar figure lawmakers projected from two sales in the area when authorization to drill in ANWR was included in the 2017 tax reform bill. 

Biden has pledged to protect the Arctic, but the administration has not yet reversed Trump’s ANWR policies as it has in other cases.

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked the Department of Justice to seek a pause in all cases where the agency was defending Trump-era rules. 

Tags ANWR Arctic Arctic drilling Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Joe Biden

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