Good things are happening! Biden officially canceled the oil leases in the nation’s largest wildlife refuge, New York passed a flurry of worker protections, Oklahoma schools reject indoctrination, and the federal government is finally coming for Big Tech.
Wildlife Refuge Remains Wild
The Biden administration announced Thursday that they would cancel oil and gas leases in the nation’s largest wildlife refuge, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Biden had previously suspended existing leases in an executive order on his first day in office, and this week’s announcement puts the nail in the coffin.
In 2017, Congress passed a tax law that not only sanctioned, but required leasing in the wildlife refuge, overturning six decades of protections for what is the largest remaining stretch of untouched U.S. wilderness. The leases, authorized by President Donald Trump near the end of his presidency, proved unpopular and unprofitable: The sale attracted just three bidders, including the state of Alaska.
Some experts believe that the 19.6 million-acre wildlife refuge sits on 11 billion barrels of oil — but the vast, remote coastal plain is also home to grizzly and polar bears, wolves, snowy owls, millions of migratory birds and herds of moose and caribou. The area is also sacred to the Gwich’in people, who protested the oil leasing deals alongside environmentalists. The lease cancellations, despite the fact that the move may have been driven at least in part by economic considerations (economic modeling suggested Arctic Refuge drilling was unlikely to be particularly profitable), is still cause for celebration.
New York Sets Its Captive Audiences Free
It’s been a good year for workers in New York, a population that makes up six percent of the nation’s workforce. On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed an array of new laws boosting protections for a variety of workers.