The Trump administration recently allowed for drilling to take place in ecologically sensitive areas of the Arctic that traditionally have been kept off limits to oil producers.
According to a report from the Financial Times, David Bernhardt, the secretary of the interior, approved an oil leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on August 17, 2020. This move opened up part of the 19.3 million acres of protected land in Alaska to drilling projects for the first time after decades of heated political discussion over the area’s protected status.
Migrating birds, polar bears, caribou and other animals inhabit the area. Environmentalists have been at the forefront of efforts to block drilling in the area since it was designated as a refuge in 1980. The August 17 decision makes a 2017 law go into effect. The law allowed the development of a 1.56 million allotment of the reserve known as the Coastal Plain.
“President Trump’s leadership brought more than three decades of inaction to an end when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, requiring these vast energy resources be developed contributing to America’s future economic prosperity and energy security,” commented Bernhardt. Trump’s move is part of a broader deregulatory effort the Trump administration has been pursuing in the last few years. Last week, the Trump administration announced the lifting of methane regulations enacted during the Obama era.
Lisa Murkowski, one of Alaska’s Republican Senators, has long advocated for opening up the region to drilling. She views the Trump administration’s decision as “a capstone moment in our decades-long push to allow for the responsible development of a small part of [the area].”
Although the Trump administration has been a mixed bag for liberty conservatives, its deregulation measures have been solid steps in the right direction. Liberty conservatives should take these positive steps into account and continue to encourage Trump and his legislative allies to pursue more deregulation.
In a time of economic crisis, the U.S. economy needs as much as deregulation as politically possible.