The decision, while laudable, also points to Pres. Biden's deeply disappointing climate record with regard to oil and gas leasing. While the federal government is now praising itself, it has approved the Willow oil drilling project and is expected to announce a significant new offshore leasing plan soon. With its half-hearted actions, his administration is failing to live up to its responsibility to future generations. The only way to maintain its credibility is to use its authority to halt all new fossil fuel projects.
The move shows that the Biden admin. is serious about climate and environmental protection, along with honoring the rights of Alaska's indigenous communities. While the federal government is bound by the 2017 tax law that provides more leases for the Arctic, its decision has made the climate ultimately safer. Climate and environmental protection may be a long road fraught with setbacks, but Pres. Biden has responded to the challenge with the most ambitious agenda in US history.
Wednesday's push may be welcome news, but as some areas of the Reserve are among the richest oil deposits in the US, developing them is an essential source of revenue and jobs, especially for the region's native communities. In addition, Pres. Biden's decision could make the country even more dependent on oil imports, which could ironically cause more planet-warming emissions than Alaska-produced crude. It also remains to be seen whether the decision will stand in court.
There's a 50% chance that the US crude oil production will reach 13M barrels per day by May 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.