In a major setback to U.S. energy production, the Biden administration confirmed plans to cancel oil and gas leases in an Alaskan federal wildlife refuge that were awarded to a state agency.
“On day one of this administration, President Biden directed us to look at the oil and gas leases sold in the refuge by the previous administration,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on a call with reporters, according to The Hill. “What we have found in our analysis is that the lease sale itself was seriously flawed and based on a number of fundamental legal deficiencies.”
The administration proposed a rule titled the “National Petroleum Reserve — Alaska (NPR-A)” which would provide “maximum protection” for “Special Areas” in Alaska, according to a press release.
“The proposal would prohibit any new leasing in 10.6 million acres, which is more than 40 percent of the reserve,” Haaland added on the call.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) was given seven leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by the Trump administration before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who ran on protecting wildlife.
Biden put those leases on hold back in January 2021. The cancellation is certain to anger the energy industry, which is producing record output in America while dealing with Saudi and Russian cutbacks that are driving up gas pump prices.