Trump’s Four-Year Drilling Binge Has Done Irreparable Damage

New RepublicTrump’s Four-Year Drilling Binge Has Done Irreparable DamageAlthough the recent auction of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling rights flopped, Biden’s team will have a tough time rolling back a strategy designed to survive a Democratic White House.

Last week, amid the chaos of the Capitol riot, the Trump administration proceeded with plans to sell off chunks of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the gas and oil industry’s highest bidders. The plan had been in the works for years, and while Congress was still under siege by fervent Trump supporters, the Bureau of Land Management opened the auction—with embarrassing results.

Only two private bidders took the plunge. Mark Graber, the head of an Alaska-based company that successfully bid on a 50,000-acre tract, told the Anchorage Daily News that he wasn’t surprised at dearth of investors. “It’s absolutely the poorest time to do this sale,” he said, referring to 2020’s dismal returns for extractive industries. However, Graber noted, with a Biden administration coming in, the chance to secure a lease might not come around for another four years. The state-owned development corporation Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority brought the total number of bidders up to three.

The lack of initial interest, with only 11 of the 22 offerings sold, was immediately hailed as a victory for ANWR conservationists and the affected Alaska Native populations, as well as a political victory for President-elect Joe Biden—one less Day One headache to worry about.

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