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U.S. Suspends Oil and Gas Leases in One of Nation’s Largest Wilderness Areas



The US Department of the Interior announced this week that it has suspended all oil and gas drilling activities established under the previous administration at the Arctic Coastal Plain National Wildlife Refuge.

One of the largest undeveloped wilderness areas in the country, the refuge is known for its fragile tundra, its coastal area under which lies 11 billion barrels of oil, and for being an important habitat for caribou, polar bears and birds. In alaska.

After the Bureau of Land Management entered into a lease sale on January 6, it subsequently issued 10-year leases on nine lots covering more than 430,000 acres.

According to a statementA comprehensive environmental review of leases will now be conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Secretary Order 3401 it will also address legal deficiencies in the environmental review of the current leasing program.

The Department is notifying tenants that it is suspending oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge while this review continues, in order to determine whether the leases should be reaffirmed, canceled, or subject to additional mitigation measures.

MORE: Arctic oil drilling plans suffer ‘surprising setback’ as almost ‘no one shows up’ for sale

According to the New York Times, various environmental groups have supported the suspension and are calling for a permanent drilling ban in the Arctic.

“Until the leases are canceled, they will continue to pose a threat to one of the wildest places left in America,” said Kristen Miller, acting director of the Alaska Wilderness League. The times. “We now hope that the administration and Congress will prioritize the legislative repeal of the oil lease mandate and restore protections to the Arctic Refuge coastal plain.”

In one statementMore than a dozen indigenous and conservation organizations thanked the current administration for taking steps to protect the land.

“These lands are sacred to the Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples and raised for porcupine caribou, polar bears and millions of migratory birds,” they wrote.

“However, more work remains to be done and we look forward to working with the administration on stronger action to correct this illegal leasing program and preserve one of the most majestic public lands in our nation.”

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