Biden Administration to Suspend Arctic Drilling Leases

The move was widely expected and follows President Biden’s executive order to place a moratorium on new Arctic drilling.

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The Biden administration plans to suspend Arctic drilling leases issued during the last days of Trump’s term.

Caribou crossing a shallow section of the Hulahula River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2019. President Biden is suspending drilling leases. Credit…Christopher Miller for The New York Times

June 1, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET

The Biden administration on Tuesday will suspend oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were issued in the waning days of the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will publish a secretarial order formally rescinding the leases, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak about the matter because it had not yet been publicly announced.

The move was widely expected and follows President Biden’s Inauguration-Day executive order to place a moratorium on new Arctic drilling.

“This is not unexpected. Since the Carter administration, whether ANWR can be leased is determined by which party is in the White House,” said Marcella Burke, an energy policy lawyer who served in the Interior Department during the Trump administration. “Developers in ANWR assume there will be a policy shift between Democrat and Republican administrations. But it’s not permanent, assuming there will someday be another party in the White House.”

Arctic tribal leaders who have protested oil drilling praised the move.

“Since we started this effort, we have always been told to work in a good way and if we do, good things will come. We are seeing proof of that today,” Tonya Garnett, special projects coordinator for the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, said in a statement. “I want to thank President Biden and the Interior Department for recognizing the wrongs committed against our people by the last Administration, and for putting us on the right path forward. This goes to show that, no matter the odds, the voices of our Tribes matter.”

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