The Arctic must be inviolate

“The Trump Administration issues leases for drilling in Arctic refuge

“The Trump administration on Tuesday issued oil and gas leases for parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fulfilling its goal of selling drilling rights in the long-protected wilderness in northeast Alaska.

“The Bureau of Land Management announced that it had signed and issued leases for nine tracts, totaling more than 430,000 acres. The nine were among 11 tracts that received successful bids at an auction earlier this month that raised far less money for the federal treasury than had been first anticipated.

“Two companies received leases to a single tract each. The state of Alaska, which bid for the leases through an economic development agency when it appeared that there might be few other takers, received seven leases. The state had successfully bid on nine tracts, and it was not immediately clear why they did not receive leases on all nine.

“The incoming president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., opposes drilling in the refuge. The issuance of leases before he takes office may make it difficult for his administration to undo them.

But lawsuits against the plan, which have been filed by environmental groups and others who hope to prevent drilling in the area, are still pending. And any plans for exploratory drilling or other work in the refuge will require additional environmental approvals.”

Henry Fountain. For The New York Times, 19JAN20

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