While riots of protesters fueled by Yet-President Trump have erupted in Washington around the Capitol, the auction for the lease of oil production rights in the Arctic National WIldlife Refuge was held on the same day, an event that has taken a bit of a back seat thanks to the images coming out of the capital.
The auction during which leases to extract oil and natural gas in areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were sold is over. Of the total of 11 bids, nine went to the only major bidder, the Alaska State AIDEA (Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority), and two areas went to two small energy companies. Instead of the hoped-for US$1 billion from the sale, only about US$14 million were raised. Thus, the State of Alaska is also the holder of the extraction rights on its own territory.
But proponents of the extraction projects call the auction a great success and groundbreaking for the future of Alaska and the United States. In contrast, environmental groups and representatives of Native American associations are calling it a resounding defeat for the Trump administration and supporters. None of what had been promised had materialized and would not materialize. Furthermore, they have announced that they will continue to fight against the extraction projects.
Where things go from here, with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris taking office, is not clear at this time. With winning both Senate seats in Georgia, the balance of power in Congress has shifted in favor of the Biden/Harris duo. What is certain is that the now nearly 40-year battle over the largest Arctic wildlife refuge in the U.S. is not likely to be over,
Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal