Kudos to the Interior Department for withdrawing a rule proposed in the final months of the Trump administration to lift safety restrictions on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.
The initial rule, published in December 2020, would have undone regulations on oil, gas and sulfur drilling in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf that were instituted in 2016, during the Obama administration.
Regulations undone in the Trump-era rule included a regulation requiring oil operators in the region to show they can promptly begin containment operations in the event of a spill, according to The Hill. It would also have eliminated a requirement that oil operators submit thorough plans for any new drilling operations. The rule was one of a flurry of late-stage Trump administration rules on energy in the region and was never finalized.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to a careful, responsible approach in managing America’s offshore resources,” an Interior Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “The Arctic exploratory drilling regulations released in 2016 are critical to ensuring adequate safety and environmental protections for this sensitive ecosystem and Alaska Native subsistence activities.”
This good news comes on the heels of President Biden signing an executive order upon taking office that temporarily blocked all oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). And separately, Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would block further drilling by designating the ANWR as wilderness, The Hill reported.