The Biden administration plans to offer hundreds of thousands of acres off the coast of Alaska for new oil and gas drilling next month, a sale mandated in Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act to win the support of holdout West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
The auction of more than 958,000 acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet next month, announced by the Interior Department Monday, could produce nearly 200 million barrels of crude and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas over the lifetime of the lease sales, according to department estimates, though it’s debatable whether any drilling will actually occur.
The lease sale, to be held Dec. 30, was one of several previously canceled offerings reinstated in the Democrats’ climate spending bill signed into law in August, and considered a linchpin to win Manchin’s support. The Biden administration announced it had canceled the Cook Inlet sale in May citing a lack of interest, prior to the legislation’s enactment.
Still, news of the sale that includes federal waters stretching roughly from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south, drew outrage from environmental groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity. The nonprofit has said the activity would harm one of the world’s most endangered whale populations — the Cook Inlet beluga — as well as other species.
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