The Biden administration has suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Donald Trump’s Interior Department had implemented a policy of allowing oil companies to tap the large reserve beneath the refuge, a change decried by environmental groups and welcomed by oil businesses. Biden had instituted a temporary ban on drilling his first day in office, but Tuesday’s order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland makes the change more lasting. Large populations of polar bears, caribou, and snowy owls inhabit the refuge, which spans 19.6 million acres and is considered sacred by some Native Alaskan tribes.
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