US President Joe Biden reverses a decision by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to drill for oil in an Alaskan wilderness area. The Republican opposition disagrees, but the energy companies had little interest in the project.
Before his resignation, ex-President Trump decided that concessions could be granted to drill for oil in the part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a large nature reserve within the Arctic Circle in northeastern Alaska. About 78,000 square miles in size, that park has been called “the last great wilderness in the United States.” There are many wild animals such as polar bears, caribou and wolves.
Democratic President Joe Biden promised to reverse that decision, and he will now do so. Henceforth it is prohibited to drill in that park. Not that the oil companies were much interested in it. Possibly many companies feared damage to the image of the general public if they jumped on that bandwagon.
“President Biden believes national treasures are cultural and economic cornerstones of our country,” Gina McCarthy, the White House’s national adviser on climate, explained Biden’s decision.
The local indigenous population is relieved. “This shows that the voices of our tribes are being heard,” Tonya Garnett, a local Indigenous government chief, told the BBC.
Not everyone is overjoyed: two Republican senators for Alaska (a predominately Republican state), Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, fear that “this decision will jeopardize Alaska’s economy and energy security.” The local governor, Republican Mike Dunleavy, says that concessions already granted to companies cannot be revoked.
Incidentally, President Biden is not opposed to oil drilling in Alaska, a state that has grown with oil extraction, but that should not happen in natural areas where irreversible damage would be done to the environment and the animal population.