The Biden administration announced Sunday evening that it is indefinitely blocking 16 million acres of federal land and water in Alaska from future fossil fuel drilling.
The Department of Interior (DOI) said it had initiated a rulemaking process to "establish maximum protection" for 13 million acres of land across the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR), an area in North Slope Borough, Alaska, set aside by Congress for resource development. In addition, President Biden ordered an additional 2.8 million of acres to be withdrawn from oil and gas leasing in the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska.
The announcement means that the entire section of the Arctic Ocean owned by the federal government is blocked from any fossil fuel production in the foreseeable future. However, an offshore lease sale hasn't been held in the region since 2007 and the administration had already ruled out future auctions through at least 2028.
Additionally, the DOI said Biden intends to limit future fossil fuel production in the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay "special areas" known for their rich wildlife populations. Biden's sweeping actions also prevent the development of certain fossil fuel pipeline infrastructure in the northern Alaska region...more