Legislation to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is going ahead as President Joe Biden begins his term in the United States.
On Feb. 4 representatives Jared Huffman, Brian Fitzpatrick and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Arctic Refuge Protection Act, which would restore protections to the coastal plain located in the refuge and repeal the leasing mandate contained in the 2017 Tax Act.
The 2017 Tax Act was introduced under the Trump administration and allowed the government to sell off portions of the refuge for oil and gas leasing and exploration.
The change in policy has been criticized by some Alaskan politicians who saw the sale as a way to create jobs and industry in the state. The Gwich’in, including the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the Yukon, applauded the decision because of concerns about caribou in the area.
“The President’s support honours the Gwich’in way of life and his swift action sends a clear message that the voices of the Elders of our Nation, and the lives of the children and grandchildren of our Nation, matter,” said Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm when Biden confirmed a moratorium after his election.
The Arctic Refuge Protection Act will now need to be voted on in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate before being signed by the president and becoming law.
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