The Trump administration is moving to finalize the sale of controversial oil drilling leases in a wildlife refuge in Alaska.
A notice from the Bureau of Land Management posted on the federal register is listed as “unpublished” as of Monday, but it calls for nominations on the lease tracts considered for the oil sale.
Oil drilling in the sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was banned for decades before a 2017 reversal by the Trump administration.
In an executive order signed in April 2017, Trump reversed the Obama administration's decision to prohibit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic waters off Alaska.
The White House said 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are buried off the U.S. coastline but that 94% of the area is off limits.
President-elect Joe Biden opposes drilling in ANWR. Conservationists have fought against drilling since the 2017 executive order. In recent months, several U.S. banks said they would not help finance the project.
The 19-million-acre refuge is home to numerous Indigenous tribes and wildlife, including polar bears and caribou.
Thirty days after the call for nominations is published on Tuesday, the Trump administration would have to issue a notice for an impending sale of leases. The sale would take place 30 days after that, according to Reuters, which would be just before Biden’s inauguration on January 20.