By Coral Davenport
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 comes after 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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