Interior Secretary Approves Oil Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

from The Wall Street Journal,

Decision opens part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling for the first time

The Trump administration approved an oil leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Monday, opening up the pristine 19-million-acre wilderness to drilling for the first time and making it difficult to unwind the decision should Democrats recapture the White House in November. Approving the program clears the way to auction oil leases “right around the end of the year,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in an interview. The decision caps more than 30 years of efforts by oil companies and Alaskan leaders to drill in the refuge.

Environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact drilling could have on the polar bears and caribou herds that live in the remote refuge in northeast Alaska. Congress passed a mandate to lease oil rights in part of the refuge in its tax overhaul in 2017, when both the House and Senate were in Republican control.

Financiers are concerned about climate change and low oil prices, and that is likely to keep oil companies from lining up to drill in the refuge, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc., which manages more than $1 trillion in assets.

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