The Washington Post is reporting that the Trump administration is trying to allow more in-depth studies of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s oil potential.
According to a memo obtained by the Post, the acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to update a rule that now bars seismic testing in the refuge.
Seismic testing would give geologists a more accurate sense of how much oil is present, and where.
Currently, it’s estimated there’s somewhere between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of oil in the refuge’s coastal plain, also referred to as the 1002 area. Environmental groups have long fought to keep drilling out of the area.
In 2014, the state of Alaska sued Interior to allow oil exploration in the refuge. That lawsuit was unsuccessful.
Any final decision that would allow companies to drill for oil in the refuge must be made by Congress.