Feds Suspend ANWR Leases

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The Interior Department moved last week to suspend leases awarded in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) while it takes a fresh look at environmental impacts. The department announced it would initiate a “comprehensive environmental analysis” of leasing in ANWR under the National Environmental Policy Act, and said it would suspend awarded leases pending completion of the review. ANWR, long a political football over drilling access, saw its first-ever lease sale in January under the outgoing Trump administration. But the event failed to generate much interest and was largely seen as a flop. It awarded nine tracts covering more than 400,000 acres of the 19.6 million acre preserve. The leases were somewhat ill-fated from the start, because the Biden administration would have had to issue permitting, and Biden has long opposed gas and oil drilling in the refuge. That was a factor seen as deterring wider commercial interest.

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