The Joe Biden government announced a new measure that prohibits the exploitation of gas and oil in a vast region of northern Alaska. This area, known as the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A), covers approximately four million hectares, equivalent in size to Denmark. The region is a vital home to iconic species such as grizzly bears, polar bears, caribou, and millions of migratory birds, as well as indigenous communities.
President Biden expressed his support for this decision, stressing the importance of preserving Alaska’s natural and cultural heritage. This measure represents a significant change in energy policy compared to the approval, just five months ago, of a hydrocarbons project in the same region. Conoco Phillips’ “Willow” project, which had been authorized during the Trump administration and endorsed by Biden, drew criticism for its environmental impact and CO2 emission levels.
The new regulation also revokes seven logging permits granted in another protected area in northern Alaska, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, which had been a focus of controversy.
Biden’s announcement has been interpreted by some as an attempt to rectify criticism received after the approval of the Conoco Phillips project by reducing the number of drilling sites and addressing environmental concerns.
This measure is in line with Biden’s promise during his campaign to freeze oil exploration permits, marking a change in the direction of US energy policy. NPR-A, created in 1923 by President Warren Harding, represents one of the largest areas of public land in the country and will continue to be a focal point in the debate on environmental preservation and natural resource exploration in the United States.