A USA federal judge has turned down requests by conservation and indigenous groups to prevent the outgoing administration from selling oil and gas leases to drilling companies in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Malkolm Boothroyd of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon says the lack of interest from big players is significant.
Chad Padgett, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Alaska state director, defended the review process Wednesday as rigorous and disputed critics' claims that the sale had been rushed.
He said his next step will be pushing for "permanent protection" for the Arctic refuge.
The Conservation Alliance and 77 business members from the outdoor, craft beverage, financial, and renewable energy industries wrote a letter to President-elect Biden urging him to act to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development.More news: Post-infection coronavirus immunity usually robust after 8 months, study shows
"Companies knew they would face incredible opposition to drilling, they would struggle to find banks to loan them money", he added.
The agency intends to partner with private companies to make sure that development moves forward, it said.
"Alaskans have waited two generations for this moment; I stand with them in support of this day". Noting that many people had spent years working to open the refuge up to drilling, she said, "Thank you for your grit and for your determination". Winning bids must be vetted in a government review process that typically takes months, though Trump administration officials are racing to formally issue the leases before Biden is sworn in January 20.
"While any oil lease sale in the refuge is concerning, I am pleased that today's sale failed to attract the interest of any of the major oil and gas companies", Bagnell said.
Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, in a statement also voiced "serious concerns" about the impact of possible oil and gas development on a herd of Porcupine caribou that roams northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada.More news: Boeing fined $2.5 billion Dollars following charges linked to 737 Max crashes
Teshekpuk Lake has been off-limits to leasing since the Reagan administration. "After forty years and extensive congressional and administrative consideration, we have finally achieved a lease sale for the 1002 Area of ANWR as Congress mandated in 2017".
At the time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that total ANWR lease sales would generate $1.82 billion USA in total revenue.
Numbers seen so far are nowhere near that range.
The sale of 11 areas on just over 550,000 acres achieved $14.4 million, a small fraction of what the government initially predicted it would get. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was the sole bidder on at least eight of the 12 tracts. Only two of the bids were competitive, so most of the land was auctioned off for the minimum price of $25 an acre.
"We are expanding access to our nation's great energy potential and providing for economic opportunities and job creation for both Alaska Natives and our nation", said Casey Hammond, principal deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior.More news: Marion Ramsey, 'Police Academy' and Broadway star, dies at 73