On his first day of office U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order putting a temporary moratorium on any oil and gas development in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

A caribou calf looks up at the camera on the Alaskan Arctic Refuge, which are the historical calving grounds for the porcupine herd. On his first day of office, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order putting a temporary moratorium on any development in the refuge.
Photo credit Malkolm Boothroyd/malkolmboothroyd.com

Posted on the White House’s website shortly after 7 p.m. MST, the comprehensive order highlights a dramatic green-shift for the U.S. federal government.

“In light of the alleged legal deficiencies underlying the program,” reads the order. “Including the inadequacy of the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, place a temporary moratorium on all activities of the Federal Government relating to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

“The Secretary shall review the program and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, conduct a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program.”

Also included in the order is a reinstatement of an order former President Barack Obama implemented protecting offshore areas of the Bering Sea and other Arctic waters. That protection had been revoked by the Trump administration.

In its final day of office, the Trump administration issued lease sales for the 11 tracts of land that were bid on out of 22 offered — nine of which were won by the Alaskan State government. Those 11 lease sales will now be under review.

Calling it an “important first step,” Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm praised the decision on the first day.

“The President’s support honours the Gwich’in way of life and his swift action sends a clear message that the voices of the Elders of our Nation and the lives of the children and grandchildren of our Nation matter,” he said. “On behalf of our Nation, Hai choo’ to President Biden and Vice President Harris for making this a priority.

“There is still a lot of work ahead, and we will not stop until our sacred lands are permanently protected, but today we are taking a moment to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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