The Trump administration on Tuesday will publish a call for oil and gas firms to pick spots where they want to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It appears to be part of a last-minute dash to auction off the rights before President-elect Joe Biden, who would likely try to block the controversial drilling authorization, takes office in January, The Washington Post reports.
Ultimately, many firms may choose not to bid at all, considering the lack of infrastructure in the region and the potential public backlash that would come with it, the Post notes, so the effort may prove futile regardless of whether the Trump administration beats the de facto deadline. But even if sales are completed, it often takes several weeks for the Bureau of Land Management to scan the highest bids for ethical and legal issues before granting contracts, Erik Grafe, the deputy managing attorney for the Alaska office of Earthjustice, told the Post, so the Biden administration "may be able to avoid issuing them" if the deals aren't finalized by the inauguration.
If the Biden administration did seek to withdraw already-granted leases on the grounds that they were issued unlawfully or "pose too great a threat to to the environment," Grafe said referring to lawsuits from environmental groups seeking to block drilling in the wilderness area, then the leaseholders would theoretically argue they deserve financial compensation. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has taken "last minute" to a whole new level.
Evers declared a mandatory shelter-in-place in his state on March 25 to reduce COVID-19 spread, taking the crisis seriously more than a week earlier than some states with larger populations. But he waited until Friday to take executive action to get the state's upcoming Democratic presidential primary canceled even though it's just four days away.
In a Friday video conference, Evers called a special session of the state's GOP-held legislature to compel it "to do its part — just as all of us are — to help keep our neighbors, our families, and our communities safe." He wants all in-person voting canceled so both voters and poll workers are not put at risk, and instead wants to extend the deadline for mail-in votes to the end of May.
The legislature has the power to push back the primary or change its format, but refused to do so when Evers asked it last week to send mail-in ballots to every voter in Wisconsin; Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the move would be "logistically impossible." Still, Democrats had blamed Evers for not doing more to push back the primary weeks ago. Even U.S. District Judge William M. Conley, who ultimately declined to push back the primary Thursday, had chided Evers and the legislature for putting the matter in his hands in the first place. Every other state with primaries in April has already pushed their date back. Kathryn Krawczyk