The Obama administration plans to ask lawmakers to delay a bill to lift a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, according to the president’s new climate and energy policy.
The move, expected to be announced Friday, is part of a broader push to tackle climate change, energy and environment policy.
In a statement to The Hill, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the administration will seek to move the bill forward after the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report that the Arctic Refuge is not a suitable place for drilling.
The report, released in late February, noted that the refuge is an unincorporated territory and therefore does not have the same jurisdictional limits as a state.
The DOI’s draft of the bill would also bar federal agencies from using the refuge for offshore drilling, or for any other purpose.
The administration said in a statement that the bill was needed to help protect the Arctic and its wildlife.
“We believe the Arctic is uniquely positioned to support energy development, and we are working with the Arctic Council, the Arctic states, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to move forward,” Jewell told The Hill.
The White House has been trying to make the Arctic a national treasure.
The president’s climate and environment task force has already recommended a drilling moratorium, a $2.3 billion plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and $1.7 billion in federal funding to improve Arctic oil and natural gas production.
The Arctic Refuge National Wildlife Area covers more than 1.5 million acres in Alaska and includes the Arctic Ocean, the Beaufort Sea, the North Slope, the Chukchi Sea and the Chugach Islands.
Environmental groups have said the Arctic refuge should not be used for oil exploration.
Jewell has previously indicated that she would like to work with the Interior Department to open the refuge to drilling and that the administration would look for opportunities to work together on energy and climate issues.
Trump’s climate policy is also likely to include a push to reverse the EPA’s new regulations on coal-fired power plants, which will affect more than 500,000 small businesses across the country.
The rules require new coal plants to have a minimum of two-thirds of their electricity come from renewables.
Energy experts have said those regulations are bad for consumers and could hurt small businesses that rely on coal.
The Interior Department has previously said that it would seek to review the regulations if Trump decides to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
But environmentalists say the regulations are also harming the economy.
Last week, the administration unveiled a plan to roll back several regulations under the Clean Power Plan, which the Obama administration announced in May as part of an effort to reduce carbon pollution from coal-burning power plants.
The EPA’s regulations, which went into effect in 2020, require power plants to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and 50 percent by 2030.
The agency estimates that the rule will save $2 billion annually.
While the administration has promised to reverse all of the CO2 rules, the Clean power Plan remains in place.