The Biden Administration's Ambiguous Position on Drilling in Alaska

The administration's support of a Conoco-Phillips project is at odds with its suspension of Trump-era oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

1 minute read

June 23, 2021, 7:30 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline

Maureen / Flickr

The Biden administration's contradicting stances on drilling in Alaska, writes Frederick Hewett for WBUR's Cognoscenti, is "characteristic of an administration trying to drive an aggressive climate agenda without alienating strategic constituencies and potential political allies." 

"There has been no drilling in ANWR except for a single test well in 1986. And although the Trump administration auctioned off 11 oil leases this past January, the Biden administration suspended them earlier this month, citing possible legal irregularities." But the administration also supports ConocoPhillips' Willow project, which "will be just as damaging to the climate and the Arctic environment as similar projects within ANWR would be," says Hewett. "The decarbonization of the economy that Biden is trying to instigate is profoundly at odds with Alaska's economic trajectory and the health of its state budget. The state's popular Permanent Fund, primarily reliant on oil and gas revenues, pays a dividend averaging roughly $1,600 annually to every resident."

According to Hewett, "Alaska may be viewed as a microcosm in which the tensions between economic growth, ecological preservation, fossil fuel exploitation and carbon reduction must eventually be resolved. Projects such as Willow will likely be around for decades, but, at least for now, ANWR is protected."

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in WBUR

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Google street view of yellow "End Freeway 1/4 mile" sign on 90 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Proposal Would Transform L.A.’s ‘Freeway to Nowhere’ Into Park, Housing

A never-completed freeway segment could see new life as a mixed-use development with housing, commercial space, and one of the county’s largest parks.

September 26, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Unhoused encampment on dry lawn with Art Deco building in background in Oakland, California.

California Legislative Package Seeks to Address Homelessness and Mental Health

The state is investing $22 billion in supportive housing, mental health services, shelter beds, and housing units for its most vulnerable residents.

7 hours ago - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Aerial view of residential buildings in Koreatown, Los Angeles with downtown skyline in background

Advancing Shade Equity in LA’s Koreatown

Koreatown is one of Los Angeles's densest and most park-poor communities. A privately funded tree planting initiative will bring some much needed greenery and shade to the area.

October 3 - LAist

Cars passing through flooded street after Hurricane Sandy in New York City.

Federal Government Announces National Climate Resilience Framework

The document is designed to guide federal investment into community-driven solutions tailored to local conditions and needs.

October 3 - Smart Cities Dive

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.