Bernhardt stated future leases of the federally-owned land will make all the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain space out there.

Bernhardt stated the announcement “marks a new chapter in American energy independence” and predicted it may “create thousands of new jobs.”

Drilling in these controversial areas of the Alaskan arctic has lengthy been controversial and the plans are sure to be met with authorized challenges.

Environmental activists have sounded the alarm that drilling the Arctic may hurt the surroundings and exacerbate the local weather disaster. Climate change has been a key challenge in the upcoming 2020 election, and Joe Biden, who is about to settle for the Democratic presidential nomination this week, has called for a ban on new oil and fuel permits on public lands.

When requested on the decision Monday whether or not he pressured due to a possible Biden administration being much less in shifting ahead, Bernhardt stated he was “not really driven by the political dynamics.”

“Congress has mandated these lease sales so they have to go forward in some regard,” Bernhardt stated. “They can’t simply unduly delay.”

A 2017 regulation required the division to maintain two lease gross sales in the refuge by 2024. A date for these gross sales has not but been set, Bernhardt stated on a name with reporters Monday, including “I do believe that there could be a lease sale by the end of the year.”

“It requires an oil and gas development program that delivers energy to the nation and revenue to the Treasury,” he stated. “The law makes oil and gas development one of the purposes of the refuge, clearly directing me, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to carry out a competitive exploration and development program for the potentially energy rich coastal plain.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the plans.

Republican Alaskan lawmakers, Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, praised the choice.

“This is a capstone moment in our decades-long push to allow for the responsible development of a small part of Alaska’s 1002 Area,” Murkowski stated in an announcement Monday. “Through this program, we will build on our already-strong record of an increasingly minimal footprint for responsible resource development.”

This story has been up to date.

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