Alaskan oil decisions have significant implications about American political forums

By Sophie Foster

Opinion Editor

President Joe Biden’s administration is not especially known for its transparency and consistent action.

For that reason, it is difficult to dissect the decisions the administration makes regarding its environmentally charged endeavors.

In January, President Biden Tweeted that his administration’s “historic progress to confront the threat of climate change continues.”

In March, that same administration approved ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, a massive oil-drilling endeavor on Alaska’s North Slope, which is petroleum-rich. This was “a major environmental decision…that drew quick condemnation as flying in the face of his pledges to slow climate change,” according to AP News.

This was a particularly egregious decision when considering that only one day prior to its announcement, the administration shared that it would be significantly limiting drilling in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland described the issue as “difficult,” “complex,” and “inherited,” claiming that the administration “had limited decision space” but that she is “confident we are on the right path, even if it’s not always a straight line.”

This might prove to be a somewhat accurate belief. On Sept. 6, President Biden moved to bar much of the existing Alaskan oil drilling and to cancel oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were initially issued during former President Donald Trump’s tenure in office.

According to The Washington Post, “the conservation push covers nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the nation’s largest expanse of public land, which provides habitat for a range of sensitive Arctic wildlife, including caribou and shorebirds.”

This move additionally imposes permanent bans on oil and gas development in over 10 million acres of the reserve.

“As the climate crisis warms the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the world, we have a responsibility to protect this treasured region for all ages,” President Biden said.

However, this plan does not block the Willow project, which is, according to The Washington Post, on track to produce 576 million barrels of oil over the next 30 years and continues to be a significant target for climate activists.

All of this uncertainty of intentions begs the question of how effective this administration actually is at combatting climate change. While buzzwords get thrown around and broad claims about protections are made, some significant oversights go unchecked in the name of national wealth.

Elected officials cannot allow themselves to continue to be more deeply concerned with governmental income than sustainability.

It is becoming glaringly obvious that President Biden is more interested in seeming invested in the wellbeing of the American public than in actually preserving it. He sees no harm in marrying himself to those aforementioned buzzwords, passing it off as a peacekeeping pledge.

It is easiest to assign blame to those espousing the most harmful rhetoric. This is especially true for those alarmed by the lack of durability suggested by a country’s unwillingness to address climate change full force. Juxtaposed with Trump, President Biden is at least willing to acknowledge the existence of climate change, even if he is apparently not desirous of taking the necessary dramatic action against it. However, the easy route is, in this case, very dangerous. President Biden is seeking reelection in 2024.

According to ABC News’ Five Thirty Eight, he currently has a 54.2% disapproval rating. If he wants to earn the leftist vote, he needs to spend less time making promises and more time following through.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo Caption: Alaska’s landscape is rich with resources — and opportunities for sociopolitical conflict.

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