Biden Reportedly Poised To Finalize Another Major Crackdown On Alaskan Oil

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President Joe Biden is on the precipice of moving to shut down new oil drilling activity on millions of acres of Alaskan land, according to Bloomberg.

Biden is reportedly days away from finalizing a plan to restrict oil drilling on nearly half of the 23 million acres known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) in the state’s North Slope region, according to Bloomberg. While the move will not imperil ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow Project that Biden greenlit in 2023, energy companies fear that the final plan will make it almost impossible to build infrastructure that takes advantage of the region’s abundant oil reserves.

Energy executives are also worried that the Biden administration’s plan may actually end up being more aggressive than previously expected, according to Bloomberg. The policy would effectively bar new leases on nearly 11 million acres of land.

The Department of the Interior (DOI), the agency that oversees the BLM, has suggested that the finalized plan for NPR-A will not affect existing leases in the region, but the initial proposal does not include specific language to that end, according to Bloomberg. Instead, the proposal would give the federal government broader remit to limit or deny access to existing leases sales. (RELATED: ‘Frankly Embarrassing’: Manchin Unloads On Biden Admin For Restricting Alaskan Oil)

The DOI also maintains that its actions in NPR-A will not have any significant impact on America’s energy supply, though there are an estimated 8.7 billion barrels of accessible oil in the area, according to Bloomberg.

The Biden administration’s plans to formally restrict oil activity in NPR-A would mark the second major move to curb oil and gas activity in the state in the past 12 months, as the DOI moved in September 2023 to retroactively cancel seven oil and gas lease sales in the state’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The NPR-A was first designated as a source of emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy by former President Warren Harding in 1923, and the area is now administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to the BLM’s website. The Biden administration has promulgated more than 50 executive actions specifically targeting Alaska, according to the office of Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The White House and BLM did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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