Sep 8, 2023
President Biden is ending drilling for oil and gas exploration in parts of Alaska. The target is millions of acres of pristine Arctic regions. He is canceling drilling leases in federal wildlife protection areas there.
The moves reverse former President Trump's policies that allowed drilling. It is the strongest posture yet from Biden on the issue. He said we have a duty to protect the precious region for all ages. He seeks to combat climate change too.
The order would forbid drilling on 13 million acres. They are located in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. It will also cancel all leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Biden officials said the new rules would provide “maximum protections'' for nearly half of the reserve. But they would not stop all drilling. The $8 billion Willow project in the same area will carry on. Biden approved it this year.
Activists hailed Biden’s new rules. Jamie Williams is the Wilderness Society president. “Our climate is a bit safer,” he said. He also thinks there is renewed hope for saving wildlife in the Arctic.
Republicans have criticized the moves. They've noted that Middle Eastern nations are limiting oil supply. They point out rising gas prices too. They claim the new rules would put the country’s energy independence in peril.
An Alaska state agency also denounced the new order. It threatens to sue the US government for canceling the leases.
Photo from Reuters.
Reflect: Do you think it is possible to balance the need for protecting the environment and wildlife with the need for energy and economic development in our country? Why or why not?
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