The Trump administration on Thursday said it would issue a sale notice for oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) next week, putting it on track to hold a drilling auction.
The move is the latest step toward pulling off the first ever sale of oil and gas leases in a pristine area of the Arctic before Biden, a Democrat who opposes energy development there, becomes president on Jan. 20.
The sale notice will be published on Monday, setting up a sale to be held on Jan. 6 via video livestream, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a statement.
Trump’s Republican administration issued a request to energy companies to identify what specific areas in the refuge should be offered for sale. The companies have 30 days to respond, and a sale notice was not expected to be issued until the end of that period.
“The Trump Administration is hell-bent on selling off the Arctic Refuge on its way out the door, rules be damned,” Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said in an emailed statement.
Drilling had been banned in the refuge for decades before Republican-led tax legislation signed in 2017 removed that ban. Lawmakers in Alaska have long pushed to open up the area to oil and gas exploration.
The coastal plain covers about 1.6 million acres, an area roughly the size of Delaware, and makes up about 8% of the vast refuge. It’s home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife. It’s also thought to hold billions of barrels of oil.
The federal government has broad power to enforce the laws of the United States, but not to police the streets or maintain order in a city if protests lead to violence.
That has been how the separation of powers between states and the federal government has been understood. The Constitution leaves the “so-called police power” in the hands of state and local officials. It is one of the “powers not delegated the United States” and instead is “reserved to the states,” as the 10th Amendment says.
This principle has been invoked often by the Supreme Court’s conservative justices. In 1995, they struck down a federal law that made it a crime to have a gun in a school zone because, as Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said, it threatened to convert federal authority into a “general police power of the sort retained by the states.”
But President Trump says he is willing and even anxious to break down the line separating federal authority from local policing. Federal agents clad in military gear clashed repeatedly with demonstrators outside the boarded-up federal courthouse in Portland, Ore. How’s that going?
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Governor Kate Brown have called for withdrawal of the agents. Democratic members of Congress have introduced a bill to block the administration from “deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans.” And mayors in other cities, including Chicago and New York, have vowed to fight any similar deployment in court.
Business owners in downtown Portland, epicenter of clashes between federal agents and protesters, have delayed reopening their shops and even considered closing them permanently since the Trump administration’s intervention worsened unrest in the city.
“The presence of federal troops has led to a near-universal upset and a worsening of conditions on the streets,” said Andrew Hoan, chief executive of Portland Business Alliance, the area’s chamber of commerce, which represents almost 1,900 businesses.
Trump’s vow to send federal agents into other cities to quell unrest and combat crime has raised questions about whether the move violates the Constitution. It has reignited a national debate on the militarization of policing. And it has added a new, disturbing twist: the use of unmarked vans in detaining protesters.
Two members of a campaign advance team who attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Oklahoma on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, the campaign said Monday.
The new test results bring the tally of advance team members for the Tulsa event who have tested positive for Covid-19 up to eight.
The six earlier positive tests of advance members occurred just before the event, and those people did not attend the rally as a result.
At least two of the earlier positive tests were of Secret Service agents.
The number of people connected to the event who test positive is expected to rise, NBC News reported, citing campaign and law enforcement officials.
The announcement of the two additional advance team members testing positive after they attended the rally came a day before Trump is scheduled to visit the Dream City Church in Phoenix for an event hosted by Students for Trump.
“After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh on Monday.
“These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols,” Murtaugh said.
The two staffers were among those tested after the rally as a precaution for flying home, according to NBC.
Trump reportedly was furious on Saturday afternoon when news broke that a half dozen members of the advance team had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Attendees of the event were required to sign a waiver releasing Trump and his campaign of any liability if they became ill after the rally.
During the rally, the president called coronavirus testing “a double-edged sword.”
“We have tested 25 million people by now, which is probably 20 million people more than anybody else. Germany has done a lot; South Korea has done a lot,” Trump said. But here’s the bad part: when you do testing to that extent, you will find more cases!”
“So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test and they test.”
White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Monday that Trump was joking when he said that he had instructed subordinates to “slow” Covid-19 testing.
The Tulsa rally, which the president had been eagerly looking forward to, has been a thorn in Trump’s side for days. In addition to the positive Covid-19 tests among campaign workers, the president reportedly also was angry after the event because of what was a surprisingly low turnout.
Despite his campaign boasting in advance of massive demand for the event, the rally at the BOK Center, which has a capacity of 19,000, drew just 6,200 people.
Even before the rally began, workers began breaking down a stage set up outside in an area set aside for what was expected to be thousands of people who could not get into the arena.
Just dozens of people gathered in that outside area by the time that Vice President Mike Pence was set to begin talking inside the arena in advance of Trump.