The Trump administration is pushing to promote Alaska oil leases forward of Biden’s inauguration

© Reuters.

By Yereth Rosen

(Reuters) – The Trump administration will take important steps to complete the sale of oil well leases in Alaska’s sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) just before Democrat Joseph Biden becomes president, a government spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

According to a spokeswoman for the US Bureau of Land Management in Anchorage, Alaska, the White House will be sending out a call for nominations in the coming days. A call for proposals is a call to energy companies to specify which land should be offered for sale.

That would start the watch within 60 days before the sale could take place in ANWR, where drilling was banned for decades before a Republican-led tax bill signed in 2017 lifted that ban. Biden rejects drilling in ANWR, while Alaska lawmakers have long pushed for the environmentally sensitive area to be open to oil and gas exploration.

Within 30 days of the call for proposals, the government would have to issue a notice of an impending sale of leases. Thirty days after that announcement, the sale would take place. That would mean a potential sale just before Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.

Alaska produces approximately 500,000 barrels per day, well below its peak of 2 million bpd in the late 1980s.

Bloomberg reported the news earlier on Friday.

The White House completed a drilling plan earlier this year. The 7.7 million acre sanctuary is home to wildlife populations such as porcupine caribou and polar bears. In the past few months, several large US banks have announced that they will not finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic.

The sloping terrain and lack of water make ANWR less beneficial for drilling than the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), which occupies the westernmost part of the northern slope, scientists have said.

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