Trump administration to seek bids on Arctic oil leases

Source: AFP Published: 2020/11/17 18:13:42

The US on Monday invited oil companies to choose arctic drilling prospects as President Donald Trump races to enact a controversial Alaska leasing plan in his final days in office.

US President Donald Trump leaves a news conference on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on May 11. Photo: AFP

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it will on Tuesday officially open a 30-day period to accept nominations and comment on some 650,000 hectares in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), pushing the plan a step further in the period before the Trump administration departs in January 2021. But US environmentalists, who have opposed drilling in ANWR for decades and garnered support from President-elect Joe Biden, vowed to fight the effort.

Leasing tracts normally takes months in between the period when a property is first publicized and a contract is finalized, posing challenges to Trump's timetable.

"Nobody should ever underestimate the Trump administration's willingness to ignore the law in favor of its agenda, but I don't see how they could sign leases before they are ushered out," Niel Lawrence, Alaska director at the National Resources Defense Council told AFP, adding that who environmentalists "are girding for battle."

The move aims to open up to development a target area long sought by petroleum interests and defended by environmentalists. Some major banks have said they won't finance projects in the refuge. Biden said during the campaign that permanently protecting ANWR stood among his "day one" priorities.
Newspaper headline: Trump office to seek bids on Arctic oil leases

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