The Trump administration has been hellbent on doing as much damage to the environment as it’s physically able, including auctioning off the rights to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But as it turns out, no one is particularly interested in bidding on one of the last wild places in the country after all!
The major energy companies, including Exxon, Shell, and BP, each passed on the opportunity to stake their claim on the land, since they’re quite logically focusing their efforts on renewable energy instead, the BBC reports. In all, the sale resulted in just $14.4 million, a small fraction of what Republicans had predicted the rights would net.
In the end, Alaska’s state-owned economic development corporation was the only bidder on nine of the parcels offered, with two small companies also taking one parcel each.
“After years of promising a revenue and jobs bonanza they ended up throwing a party for themselves, with the state being one of the only bidders,” said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.
“We have long known that the American people don’t want drilling in the Arctic Refuge, the [Alaska native] Gwich’in people don’t want it, and now we know the oil industry doesn’t want it either.”
President-elect Joe Biden has said previously that he will “permanently protect” the refuge, and lawsuits from environmental advocacy organizations are expected to further stymie any drilling.
“The writing is on the wall for any of the bidders,” Jenny Rowland-Shea, a senior public lands policy analyst at the Center for American Progress told The Hill.
“It will be tough to get financing and the incoming Biden administration and opposition in the Senate and even new leadership in the Senate and lots of litigation ongoing over the rushed Trump environmental reviews for these projects—all that will make it difficult for companies to drill.”