Dec 21, 2018

A new phase in the Arctic drilling battle

A beach in Alaska. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Interior Department took a step toward allowing oil-and-gas exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Thursday by releasing a draft environmental analysis.

Why it matters: The study from Interior's Bureau of Land Management is a precursor to auctioning drilling leases as soon as 2019 in the ecologically sensitive area that's believed to hold billions of barrels of recoverable oil.

The big picture: Drilling advocates gained the upper hand in the decades-long battle over ANWR when Republicans enacted legislation last year to allow development.

But, but, but: Any actual oil exploration and production would happen well into the future, and the intensity of industry interest is not certain.

  • A Barclays research note last year predicted that after the first lease sale, it would be 2–6 years before the first well is drilled.
  • That's enough time for Democratic drilling opponents to try and put up hurdles if they regain power in Washington.
  • A New York Times piece yesterday said potential drilling could actually be a decade or more away.

What's next: A 45-day public comment period on the study will open late this month and, per the NYT, the selection of a final leasing and environmental restriction proposal by early next summer.

  • "If the process survives expected court challenges by environmental and conservation groups, as well as efforts by the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to slow it down, lease sales for rights to drill for oil and gas could be held before the end of 2019," the paper reports.

What they're saying: "An energy-dominant America starts with an energy-dominant Alaska," outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

He called opening ANWR's coastal plain a step "toward bolstering America's economic strength and security."

Green groups attacked the move. “The process laid out in the plan is rushed and reckless, defying good science and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders," said Wilderness Society president Jamie Williams.

Go deeper: The next battles over ANWR

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Biden says he'll follow CDC mask guidance: "Listen to the Faucis of the world"

Joe Biden said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that he will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendation that people wear face coverings when they leave home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: After the White House announced the guideline last week, President Trump said he will likely not wear a mask and emphasized that the guidance was "voluntary."

Louisiana governor says state will run out of ventilators on April 9

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that modeling projects his state will run out of ventilators for coronavirus patients on April 9 and hospital beds on April 11.

Why it matters: New York is the only state in the country with a worse per-capita death rate than Louisiana, where around 12,500 people have been infected and 409 have been killed.

Go deeperArrow21 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 1,216,422 — Total deaths: 65,711 — Total recoveries: 252,478Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 312,245 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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