President Biden halts drilling projects in Alaska | Polarjournal
President Joseph R. Biden, shown here at his inauguration ceremony yesterday, halted several resolutions passed by his predecessor in the first hours of his official term. Among them are the oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ANWR. Image: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

The new President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden was sworn into office yesterday at noon local time. Just hours after that, he began his work and his promise to stop Trump administration resolutions. In addition to a letter to the U.N. announcing the U.S.’s return to the Paris climate accord, he also halted oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for now.

The announcement came just hours after Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into office in a dignified ceremony that drew worldwide attention. Thus, shortly after taking office, he repealed this and other ordinances of his predecessor in office, as he had promised to do during his campaign.

The proposed extraction areas in the ANWR are located in the grazing grounds of the largest reindeer herd in the world, the Porcupine herd. But according to environmentalists, the existence of other animal and plant species would also be threatened. Project proponents disagree with the statements. Image: US National FIsh and Wildlife Service

According to media reports, the halt to the projects is only temporary, as the sale of leasing rights and drilling projects have been signed into law by the Trump administration in 2017. A presidential decree can be issued to stop this, at least for a certain period of time. The new government also now has the opportunity to plan further steps. After all, the new administration also has Congress behind it now that the Democrats have a majority in both chambers.

But the whole thing is not likely to be easy. That’s because the lease rights have already been sold to an Alaska state agency in an auction in early January 2021. And Alaska’s Republican governor, Mike Dunleavy, announced in a statement that he is “prepared to use every resource possible to fight for Alaskans right to have a job, and a future by taking advantage of every opportunity available to us.” So the case is likely to keep the courts busy for years to come, at the very least.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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