The Trump administration's last-minute attempt to sell off Alaskan drilling rights totally bombed

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/11/the-trump-administrations-last-minute-attempt-to-sell-off-alaskan-drilling-rights-totally-bombed.html

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There is NO “good news” here at all.

The federal govt profits were low? WHO CARES? The rights have been sold.

What if the rights had been given away, would that be good news too? Even better news?

The Republicans aren’t concerned about making a profit on this shit, they WANT to give away the rights for nothing, in fact in the past they’ve coordinated things so that there are very few bidders

Wouldn’t be surprising if that was exactly what happened here. Three is probably the legal limit to make it valid.

They (Republicans) WANT to give away FOR FREE OR VERY CHEAP all our federal lands for plunder and profit, to their rich friends (and eventually get kickbacks when they’re out of office)

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Not totally bombed. I had imagined “bombed” meant “no leases sold” :grin: but it turns out they just didn’t make the money they expected. ANWR is still fucked, :nauseated_face: which will please the MAGA Lynch Mob (MLM Party) anyway :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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The good news that some of the land didn’t sell at all, and if Alaska now owns it, it has a good shot of becoming STATE wildlife refuge areas.

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There’s no demand for new oil development right now. That’s why the bidding went nowhere. This was just a ‘screw you’ to anyone who cares about our planet.

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Ok, I hope you’re right, but

Alaska’s state-owned economic development corporation, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

doesn’t sound too promising, especially combined with Alaska’s typical governmental representation.

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Cripes amighty. 14 million? That’s nothing. Why didn’t the Sierra Club crowdfund buying up this land?

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“Half of the offered leases drew no bids at all.”, so the good news is half of the land isn’t sold. Unless the federal government offers a retroactive “two for one sale”

So the glass is half full (probably of poison), but that beats all full? Or was it beats all empty? I forget now :wink:

Remember two things here,

  1. the bids were on the rights to explore and drill, not to own the land outright. It is still ANWR-managed land, and will likely remain for the indefinite future.

  2. AFAIK, no money has exchanged hands. This was an auction with the promise to pay IF the bid is considered legal. From the NY Times:

There remain legal questions about the state jumping in to bid on leases that are typically bought by oil companies. The development corporation does not have the experience or expertise to actually undertake oil development in the refuge, and winning bids on leases elsewhere have sometimes been rejected because the bidder was deemed similarly unqualified.

and in the end, the Biden administration could simply reject the leases. This might turn out to be an even bigger nothing-burger than it appears to be right now.

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Probably because they thought they would have to bid against $900 million. Also, the land isn’t being sold, just the drilling rights.

Which is an important reason why there wasn’t much interest in bidding. Not that oil companies wanted to own the land but that the government, who still does, can make it difficult to exercise those drilling rights.

For example, fines of $10,000,000 per acre of tundra disturbed. Which might not stop drilling, but would be a serious thorn.

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All absolutely correct – but the Trump administration is moving to try to approve the leases before January 20, so the Biden administration might not get the opportunity to reject them. BUT, just because the winning bidders have leases doesn’t mean they can drill, there are plenty more regulatory hurdles to clear before actual drilling can happen. And the Biden administration can block those, even if the lease sale is approved before Biden takes office.

Also worth noting: This auction was mandated as part of the Trump corporate tax cut – the proceeds are supposed to replace some of the tax revenue lost by the cuts – and the same law requires that a second auction be held by 2025. So Congress still needs to act to prevent more land being auctioned off.

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Cripes amighty. 14 million? That’s nothing. Why didn’t the Sierra Club crowdfund buying up this land?

Bids from entities deemed not serious about actually drilling are rejected without further consideration. A bid from the Sierra Club would go nowhere even if it were able to outbid everyone else. The real money is not in the leases themselves, it’s in the taxes on all of the economic activity that happens around an active drilling site.

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Thanks to you and Hubber below for the insights. I’ll retroactively say I was sort of joking. I had wondered if entities not in the extraction business would be able to bid. I think I read that the state of Alaska’s bid may not even be allowed.

A difference is that Tim DeChristopher didn’t have 1.7 million. I’m not sure that this would be an important difference, as IANAL.

My working assumption is that this is exactly why (almost) nobody bothered - why expend any effort bidding when it’s highly likely to be unwound anyway?

I will just add that anybody that knows anything about the energy industry knew this was going nowhere. Even though oil prices have recovered from the collapse of 2020, few in the oil industry have any interest in developing high-cost oil fields like anything in ANWR would be. The price has simply been too volatile over the past decade, and none of the companies that have the billions of dollars that would be required to develop Arctic drilling on a meaningful scale are confident that they’ll make a profit, let alone the kind of return on investment that they (and their shareholders) are accustomed to. The two private companies that won leases are wildcatters that purposely seek high-risk, high-reward opportunities. They’re either going to make a killing on this or lose everything they spent. My money, and certainly my hope, is on the latter.

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