The Department of the Interior on Monday approved an oil and gas development program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Park

Under the Jobs and Tax Relief Act of 2017, which supports energy security, job creation, and economic growth for future generations, Congress gave final approval to an oil and gas development plan on the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

As reported by the Department of the Interior in a press release, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed the resolution approving the Oil and Gas Lease Program on Monday. The resolution determines where and under what terms and conditions development will take place on the coastal plain.

“Congress directed us to hold lease sales in the ANWR Coastal Plain, and we have taken a significant step in meeting our obligations by determining where and under what conditions the oil and gas development program will occur,” Secretary Bernhardt said.

The program caters to firms that obtain the usufruct license, the rights of way, the easements, and the areas of land necessary for production and the support facilities they need to find and develop these important oil and gas resources.

The signed decision makes approximately 1556 acres (630 hectares) or the entire Coastal Plain program available for oil and gas leasing, opening it up for potential future exploration, development, and transportation.

The Department of the Interior stated the energy potential of the coastal plain of ANWR is unlocked after 30 years of stagnation now that President Trump has signed the Jobs and Tax Reduction Act. Finally, the development and exploitation of oil and gas will occur in about 8 percent of the National Park territory.

The legislation not only allows for a development program in the oil and gas industry but also sets forth a program that will deliver energy to the Nation and revenue to the treasury.

The Republican Governor of Alaska said, “Today’s announcement marks a milestone in Alaska’s forty-year journey to responsibly develop our State and our Nation’s new energy frontier—the 1002 Area. The program is a definitive step in the right direction to develop the energy potential of this area where we have between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil reserves,” reported NBC News.

Although environmentalists have criticized the project, advocates point out that by authorizing 8 percent of the area for hydrocarbon exploitation, Congress has achieved a balance between access to important national energy resources and the permanent preservation of the vast regions for wildlife.

According to the report, they assured that all permitted activities would incorporate the required operating procedures and stipulated restrictions based on the best science and technology to ensure that energy development does not occur at the expense of the environment.