Trump admin races to sell Alaska oil leases

The Trump Administration on Monday took a key step to finalize selling oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as it rushes to open the sensitive area for oil and gas exploration just before Democrat Joe Biden, who opposes drilling there, becomes president.

On Monday, a government document showed the administration issued a request to energy companies to pick areas in the refuge that they would be interested in.

The document will be officially published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, according to the Department of the Interior.

That would start the clock on a 60-day period before sales could take place in the refuge, potentially setting up a sale of leases just before Inauguration Day on January 20th.

Drilling had been banned in the pristine refuge for decades before a Republican-led effort in 2017 removed that ban.

The White House earlier this year finalized a plan to allow drilling.

The 19-million-acre refuge is home to Native tribes and wildlife populations including caribou and polar bears. In recent months, several big U.S. banks have said they would not finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region.

Video Transcript

The Trump administration, on Monday, took a key step to finalize selling oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As it rushes to open the sensitive area for oil and gas exploration, just before Democrat Joe Biden, who opposes drilling there, becomes president.

On Monday, a government document showed the administration issued a request to energy companies to pick areas in the refuge that they would be interested in. The document will be officially published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, according to the Department of the Interior. That would start the clock on a 60-day period before sales could take place in the refuge, potentially setting up a sale of leases just before inauguration day on January 20. Drilling had been banned in the pristine refuge for decades, before a Republican-led effort in 2017 removed that ban.

The White House, earlier this year, finalized the plan to allow drilling. The 19 million acre refuge is home to native tribes and wildlife populations, including caribou and polar bears. In recent months, several US banks have said they would not finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region.