The Biden Administration canceled seven oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and strengthened safeguards against oil drilling across more than 10 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The canceled leases, the last of those still outstanding from a Trump administration lease sale on January 6, 2021 Interior Secretary Deb Haaland described as “seriously flawed and based on a number of fundamental legal deficiencies.”

The new NPR-A safeguards would permanently ban oil and gas extraction from 10.6 million of the reserve’s nearly 23 million acres (and can be expanded as local communities can nominate other areas for similar protections) but would not halt drilling at ConocoPhillips’ $8 billion “Willow” project the administration approved earlier this year — a decision that incited strong blowback from environmental advocates. While the new protections do not make up for the Willow approval, Deirdre Shelly, campaigns director for the Sunrise Movement, told the New York Times, the new announcements are “exactly the sort of thing young people and people in the climate movement want to see from the president.”

California Rep. Jared Huffman echoed the sentiment. “I regard this as a good news day,” he told Politico. “Especially since there’s no bad news with it. We’ve had a lot of these days where it’s a spoon full sugar to make the medicine go down. But this is nothing but good climate news.” (New York Times $, Washington Post $, AP, The Hill, Grist, Axios, Bloomberg $, FT $, Reuters; Nominations for additional protection: Politico)