On Monday, the Trump administration finalized its plans to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska—the largest remaining stretch of protected wilderness in the U.S.—to oil and gas drilling, reports The New York Times. This plan will overturn over 50 years of protection for this area. The proposed site, which is projected to yield billions of barrels of oil, is widely revered by environmentalists for its pristine remote beauty and diverse wildlife.
The Interior Department stated that it has finally finished all of the required reviews of the area, and it would begin preparations to auction off leases to interested parties. Though a date has not been set for the auctions to begin, the Times reports Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s admission that he believes, “there could be a lease sale by the end of the year.”