The US Department of the Interior issued an order Tuesday temporarily suspending all Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program (the Program) related activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Secretarial Order 3401 aims to enforce Section 4(a) of Executive Order 13990, which required that the Department halt the Program activities and conduct a “comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program.” President Joe Biden issued order 13990 on “Day One” based on allegations that the program was legally deficient and failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Through order 3401, the Department confirmed the program’s failure to comply with NEPA, “including failure to adequately analyze a reasonable range of alternatives in the environmental impact statement.” In a press release, the Department stated that it will review all of the Program’s oil and gas leases “to determine whether the leases should be reaffirmed, voided, or subject to additional mitigation measures.”
The Trump administration established the program and issued 10-year lease terms on over 430,000 acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If the Department determines that all leases should be voided, the Biden administration’s recent move may eliminate the previous administration’s program.