The Biden administration earlier this month cancelled seven oil and gas drilling leases in a part of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR. This followed the Department of Interior’s decision earlier this year to approve Conoco Phillips multi-billion-dollar investment in the planned oil development known as Willow, on Alaska’s North Slope. While the two positions appear contradictory, they actually offer insight into tactical aspects of environmental movement and the scoring scheme known as ESG.
Seeking to achieve through mandates and "scores" that which could not be achieved through legislative compromise or free markets, the efforts in Alaska reveal the flexibility ESG adherents have to use any means necessary to roll back the economic, geo-political, and societal advantages of American energy independence, in exchange for a more surveilled, dystopic, and less free society.
ESG is watching you.
Understood by many as the most effective weapon for defunding oil and gas projects, the genesis of ESG reaches back to 2000. Back then, the World Economic Forum (WEF), an organization that advocates for a single centralized global government, launched the scoring scheme through the non-profit entity known as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Central to the WEF plan was the re-direction of investor capital away from industries that underpin a free and vibrant economy, such as oil and gas, and toward industries and companies from which these central-planning, ESG acolytes derive personal financial and social benefit.
ESG scoring is necessarily based on an arbitrary, contrived premise about environmental degradation. Without the “looming environmental destruction” pretext, no investor would willingly direct his investment capital in industries and companies that will destroy the economy and society in which he lives. As a result, ESG remains the defining tool the Biden administration and its allies on the left are using to expedite the destruction of the oil and gas sector.
The canceled leases represent the overturning of a lease sale held during the Trump administration of some 365,000 acres of the ten-million-acre ANWR reserve. The leases were originally issued as part of the 2017 tax law that mandated leasing in ANWR, to ensure domestic energy independence and provide royalty revenue for the state and Alaskan natives who rely on parts of the land for hunting, as well as on the oil and gas revenue derived from such leases that Biden just canceled. The 2017 law required the Department of Land Management to hold two lease sales in the refuge by 2024. That final sale will legally still have to occur, highlighting that the cancellations are purely political.
By January 2021 there were nine leases covering approximately 430,000 acres. The Biden administration canceled and refunded two of the leases at the request of those leaseholders in 2022 because the lease holders recognized that they would end up in years of litigation with the administration. They instead opted to redirect their capital to more productive uses in other oil and gas projects. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state-owned economic development corporation, owned the remaining seven leases to which the cancellation now applies. AIDEA executive director Randy Ruaro said in a statement that the cancellation of its leases is illegal and will be followed by court action to uphold them.
This latest action by the Department of the Interior shows arbitrary disregard for federal law, based on campaign trail rhetoric,” he said. “Campaign promises are not enough to justify this agency action. Under the law, Interior must present real facts and reasons that support this reversal in position.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also understands the implications of unilaterally cancelling leases for ideological and political purposes: "They just yanked those leases," Sullivan said. "But now we're going to get ready for the next lease sale. Give me a break. Who the hell in their right mind would invest money in a lease sale when they just watched the first lease sale get yanked?"
Precisely. Given the tactical alignment perfected between the administration and its far-left climate agenda allies, the U.S. energy sector should recognize that it's being harangued both coming and going. Whether in the form of a unilateral regulatory edict by the administration, as is the case canceling leases in ANWR, or by lawfare conducted by climate activists--- the oil and gas sector is being pinched.
One might call it a shakedown.
When the administration fails to achieve a particular outcome using regulatory edicts, as was the case with the Willow project, it can always rely on their trusted counterparts and co-conspirators in the environmental extreme to file lawsuits, as has occurred multiple times since the Willow approval.
In that case, longstanding leases with the government, across multiple administrations from both parties, made unilateral cancellation by the Biden administration impossible. Blocked by the law, the administration now relies on activist allies like Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and others, all plaintiffs in the Willow project, to tie things up for years: "Developing a massive new Arctic oil formation is a threat to the global climate and an already dramatically warming Arctic region," the suit asserted.
An Interior spokesperson declined to comment about the Willow suit when it was filed because the agency is in alignment with the plaintiffs. After all, lawfare is as good an option as the administration’s unilateral cancellations. The two sides share a common goal of destroying the oil and gas sector. The specific tactic used is irrelevant.
That intention remains the objective of the Biden administration and the globalist left. Ideological allies and mentally fragile members of the Executive branch aside, the progenitors of the strategy at the WEF, including those who manage investor capital, must force change in order to successfully dismantle America’s economic, political and societal dominance.
The question before Americans is: will they let it happen?