The US government announced on Wednesday that it will ban the extraction of gas and oil in a wide area of northern Alaska. It had approved a controversial new project in the same area five months earlier.
The new measure covers an area of more than four million hectares, an area similar to the size of Denmark. The area is home to grizzly bears, polar bears, caribou, and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
“Alaska is home to many of the most beautiful natural wonders in the United States,” President Joe Biden said in a press release. “With the climate crisis warming the Arctic twice as fast as the rest of the planet, it is our responsibility to protect these valuable regions for centuries to come.”
In another protected area in northern Alaska, seven operating permits granted by the administration of former President Donald Trump have also been revoked, the Interior Department added. The new plan also prohibits drilling in an area of more than 1 million hectares in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska.
The Democratic president’s administration came under heavy criticism from environmental groups in March after it gave the green light to a major project by oil company ConocoPhillips in the same region. The new decision does not put this project in jeopardy.
Some see Wednesday’s decision as a catch-up move. Biden had promised during his election campaign not to grant any new operating permits, but he was unable to fulfill this promise. Observers point out that court decisions limited his room for maneuver.
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.
“Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert.”