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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Interior Department will imminently take the next step toward selling drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before President Trump leaves office, Bloomberg reports.

Driving the news: They report that as soon as today, Interior will issue a "call for nominations" for parcels to auction at a sale of drilling rights in 1.6 million acres of the refuge's coastal plain.

Why it matters: The Arctic refuge is thought to hold billions of barrels of recoverable oil. But the sensitive ecosystem is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife.

Where it stands: President-elect Joe Biden opposes drilling in the refuge, so look for his administration to try and stymie the effort.

  • But the 2017 law that opened the refuge after a decades-long fight requires leasing there, so he can't just wish the whole thing away.
  • However, there are several ways Biden could delay development efforts or try to reimpose restrictions.
Expand chart

One reason why Alaskan politicians are keen to open ANWR is the prospect of adding new revenues to a state where oil production has long been declining.

The big picture: The U.S. crude oil production boom of the last decade has instead been centered in a few lower-48 states — none more than Texas.

Go deeper: How Biden could thwart Trump's Arctic push

Go deeper

Updated Dec 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.