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Trump administration opens more Arctic land to oil leasing in final assault on environment

Donald Trump is looking to curry favor with oil and gas companies during the final days of his tenure.

Trump administration opens more Arctic land to oil leasing in final assault on environment
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: President Donald Trump arrives to speak in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images)

The Trump administration might be on its way out but it will make one final assault on the environment as it opens up once-protected Arctic Alaska territory to oil development. Donald Trump and his administration have reversed much of America's commitment to preserving the environment and fighting climate change including backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The Trump administration announced on Monday that it will allow leasing in Teshekpuk Lake, the largest lake in Arctic Alaska. The lake is a haven for migrating birds and wildlife and has been off-limits to leasing since the Reagan administration. Thanks to the Trump administration's latest decision, more land on the western North Slope will be open to drilling. This comes ahead of a scheduled auction of drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on the eastern North Slope on Wednesday. The ANWR borders Canada. “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, reported NBC News.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump had earlier made the traditional call to members of the military stationed abroad through video teleconference. (Photo by Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images)

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has released its plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), a 23 million-acre piece of land on the western North Slope. It will allow for lease sales to proceed under relaxed standards and has been signed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The NPR-A has been averaging 466,000 barrels per day in 2019, according to U.S. Energy Department data, and accounts for a majority of the state's daily oil production. Half of the reserve was available during Obama's stint at the White House with the other half protected for environmental and indigenous people reasons. The plan put forth by the Trump administration will see oil development in roughly 80 percent of the reserve. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was opened up for oil leases in 2017. The jury is still out on whether the increased acreage will increase oil production. The oil production in the region peaked more than 30 years ago at 2 million barrels per day.



 

Environmentalists are already planning to reverse the reportedly disastrous plan. “This flawed management plan will create more conflict and a less-stable business environment for companies operating in the region,” said David Krause, assistant Alaska director for The Wilderness Society, in a statement. "For decades, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has stood as a symbol of our nation's strong natural legacy," said Ellen Montgomery, public lands campaign director for Environment America, reported Salon. "Its breathtaking landscape is home to endangered polar bears, caribou, wolves, muskoxen, and migratory birds that travel annually to all 50 states. Destroying their home in the craven desire for more oil is a tragic mistake."



 

Donald Trump has been a climate change denier his whole life despite making the odd statement towards the end of his stint at the White House. While he might have made the odd statement claiming climate change is real, his words prior to becoming President and his actions after, establish him as a climate change denier. When asked if he thought climate change was a hoax, he replied, "Nothing's a hoax about that. It's a very serious subject. The environment is very important to me. I'm a big believer in that word, the environment," said Trump, reported CNN, before adding, "I want clean air; I want clean water. I want the cleanest air with the cleanest water. The environment's very important to me." He had made the statement as he rolled back yet another environmental law last year. 



 

His track record during his stint at the White House doesn't help him either. Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord in his first year as President, as he had promised during his 2016 election campaign. In 2018, his administration released a report citing the potential impacts of climate change but Trump dismissed it, claiming that he didn't believe it. This from a guy who thought he could fight hurricanes by nuking them. "I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them? They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?" asked Trump in a meeting with senior officials, reported Yahoo News. On the other hand, Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement. “The United States will rejoin the Paris Agreement on day one of my presidency,” said Biden, reported Boston Herald.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Actress Emma Thomson and Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven join Greenpeace climate change activists outside the Shell building on September 29, 2015 in London, England. The event was marked as a celebration after the Anglo-Dutch oil company announced yesterday that it was pulling out of Arctic oil drilling. A giant model of a Polar Bear was then moved from its position outside Shell before being taken to Paris to join other activist activities. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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