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Trump Opens Up Drilling Projects

Image by Luca Galuzzi

“Drill baby, drill,” the famous Republican slogan said often by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is exactly what Trump wants in her state. From a Trump order, projects in Alaska’s reserves have been fast tracked as Trump waived environmental reviews.

Trump is speeding up construction in order to help boost the economy after serious backlash from the coronavirus shutdown. The Department of Interior pushed forward 21 fossil fuel and mining projects because of the order, including oil development projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. 70 highway expansion projects have also been added to the list.

These projects are receiving major criticism from environmental groups, who think speeding up these projects will not allow the correct review, and therefore, may have negative impacts. Interior spokesman Conner Swanson said in a statement, “The Trump Administration has taken significant steps to improve the federal government’s decision-making process, while also ensuring that the environmental consequences of proposed projects are thoughtfully analyzed.”

President Trump’s order defers the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires thorough review of projects that increases the amount of time until the project can begin, and is viewed by many Republicans as unnecessary red tape. In the order, Trump says “From the beginning of my administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly delays. The need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis.”

Why this matters: Oil productions is a major campaign issue. As environmental groups protest this order, stating that it oversteps crucial guardrails, it separates Biden and Trump on the issue of drilling and environmental concerns.

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