U.S. suspends oil leases in Arctic wildlife refuge amid environmental concerns

(Xinhua) 08:21, June 02, 2021

WASHINGTON, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday that it suspended all activities related to the controversial oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) amid environmental concerns.

The department will initiate a "comprehensive environmental analysis" to review the potential impacts of the leasing program and to address "legal deficiencies" in the current leasing program's environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), according to an order signed on Tuesday by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

"The Department is notifying lessees that it is suspending oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge, pending the review, to determine whether the leases should be reaffirmed, voided, or subject to additional mitigation measures," the department said in a statement.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management established and began administering an oil and gas program in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge, opening up part of the 19.3-million-acre protected area in Alaska to drilling for the first time.

But in a Day One executive order, U.S. President Joe Biden directed the Interior Department to review oil and gas activity in the Arctic Refuge. After conducting the required review, the department identified "defects" in the previous administration's decision supporting the leases.

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Du Mingming)


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