On day 1, Biden reverses order to allow drilling in Alaska refuge

Maya Brisan, Staff Writer

The day before President Joseph Biden’s inauguration, former President Donald Trump finalized his decision to lease Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (AWNR) for drilling. 

According to an interview with NPR, Larry Persily, an observer of the gas industry in Alaska, said that the sale was, “in the oil industry terms, a dry hole. A bust.” 

Trump issued the lease, “delivering on a promise to fossil fuel proponents on the president’s last full day in office,” as reported by Al Jazeera

According to The World Radio Newspaper, the AWNR has been one of the most high-profile environmental cases for decades due to the amount of oil it contains. Trump expected $1 billion in revenue from the sale, but it ended up totaling less than $15 million. 

The article also stated that, “President Trump made opening ANWR a key part of his plan for expanding domestic oil production.” 

Supporters of the lease believe that drilling in the Arctic can create new jobs and boost the economy.

The area that was put up for lease is a coastal plain spanning roughly 400,000 acres of land, home to caribou, polar bears, birds and other native animals. Those who opposed the lease say the drilling of the land would harm the wildlife and the people who depend on animals for their survival. 

According to The World Wide Fund for Nature, drilling the Arctic would be incredibly dangerous for the environment. The article states that, “Broken ice and other severe weather conditions in the Arctic make any large oil spill or well blowout catastrophic for the amazing life in the area. Opening the Arctic up for drilling would needlessly place the entire region at risk.” 

The article goes on to explain exactly how species living in that area would be affected: food will decrease, oil could kill wildlife and necessary communication between animals would become increasingly difficult. The area is also home to many native Alaskans, and their survival also depends on the animals that thrive in the coastal plain. 

Many environmental groups argued and stood against the drilling in the Arctic. Numerous petitions to stop the drilling from happening have circulated, including ones from change.org, the National Resources Defense Council and protectthearctic.org

In August 2020, Alaskan environmental groups banded together to file two separate lawsuits challenging the plan to allow drilling, the Associated Press reported. 

A local newspaper in Alaska, the Juneau Empire, wrote an article about the local environmentalists who are protesting the decision. Protestors lifted banners objecting to the drilling locally and around the world, even going as far as London, the newspaper reported. 

Any argument about jobs misses the point…,There are no jobs on a dead planet,” 350juneau member, Elaine Schroeder said in the Juneau Empire.