Trump Admin Steps Up Pace On First Oil Lease Sale In Alaskan Arctic, Enviros Cry Foul

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Chris White Tech Reporter
Font Size:

The Department of the Interior is fast-tracking plans to sell oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Reuters reported Friday.

“That lease sale will happen in 2019,” Joe Balash, the assistant interior secretary for Land and Minerals Management, said before an oil industry conference Thursday in Alaska.

The vast area, home to caribou and polar bears, was off-limits to oil and gas drilling until 2017, when lawmakers moved to mandate drilling in the Arctic.

The mandate requires DOI to hold a lease sale within four years, offering over 400,000 acres of the coastal plain of ANWR for development. The agency issued an environmental impact statement in 2018 and will follow up with a final report by August, Balash said. A lease sale will follow soon thereafter, he added.

Environmentalists are criticizing the administration’s break-neck pace.

“If they really stick with that timeline, then they’re likely going to be violating several environmental laws,” Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, told Reuters. (RELATED: Trump Administration Shelves Plan To Dramatically Expand Offshore Drilling)

U.S. President Trump attends U.S. Air Force Academy's graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado

U.S. President Donald Trump talks with a grauating cadet while participating in the U.S. Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

Offshore drilling in the Arctic was a key element of President Donald Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda, which aims to dramatically boost oil and gas production. Interior officials began crafting a replacement to the Obama administration’s five-year plan for offshore drilling during the early part of Trump’s second year.

The administration’s plan, released in early 2018, proposed the largest number of offshore lease sales ever, opening 90% of the outer continental shelf acreage to energy exploration covering 98% of recoverable oil and gas resources. U.S. offshore areas are estimated to hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 127 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to official estimates.

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact