Department of Interior Shuts Down Millions of Acres of Alaska to All Oil, Gas and Mining Activity

Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
by Kevin Killough


The Interior Department last Friday blocked 28 million acres of federal land in the state of Alaska from any mining or oil and gas development.

Rick Whitbeck, Alaska state director for Power The Future, said the decision on D-1 lands removes an area the size of the state of Pennsylvania from resource development, which will have severe energy impact to the nation and the state of Alaska.

“Today’s double-whammy attack on Alaska’s resource development opportunities makes 65 times the Biden administration has targeted our state’s energy and economic future. This administration has completely kowtowed to radical environmentalists in an effort to gain favor at the ballot box. Placing 28 million acres off-limits to responsible development is foolhardy, and only empowers China, Russia and other enemies of our Republic,” Whitbeck told Just the News.

In a separate decision, the department also blocked a 211-mile gravel road that would have connected mining districts in west-central Alaska to a highway that runs through the middle of the state. The mines are rich in copper and cobalt needed for the so-called green energy transition.

Former President Donald Trump had approved the permit to build the road in 2020, but after Joe Biden was elected, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ordered a new analysis, arguing that the Trump-era studies had been inadequate.

Alaska’s congressional delegation enjoys bipartisan support for the project. In December, Republican Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, along with the state’s Democratic Representative Mary Sattler Peltola, sent a letter to Haaland (pictured above) urging the analysis be conducted quickly and the road project re-approved.

The Alaskan lawmakers argued that Alaska and the nation needed the jobs, revenues and minerals to which the road would allow access. Those minerals, the lawmakers explained, would also make America less dependent on foreign countries with poor records on human rights.

“Rejecting the AAP, or approving it in a non-viable manner, would cost us those benefits, prolong our deep dependence on foreign minerals, and magnify the vulnerabilities and atrocities associated with it,” the Alaskan delegation wrote.

The delegation also explained that Congress had mandated the road’s construction through the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

“Dismissing the fact that Congress mandated access to the Ambler Mining District is a brazen overreach of executive authority,” Whitbeck said.

In its formal record of decision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) picked the “no action” alternative, which prohibits construction of the road on public lands.

The BLM also selected the “no action” alternative in its final environmental impact statement concerning Alaska’s D-1 lands. This will prevent all future oil, gas and mining activities on 28 million acres spread across Alaska.

Josie Wilson, spokesperson for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which had advocated for the road, told Bloomberg Law that the group would be pursuing litigation against the decision.

At an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in May, Murkowski blasted Interior Sec. Deb Haaland over the Biden administration’s intention of shutting down the Ambler Road, arguing there is “no good excuse” for the department’s decisions.

“The administration here has effectively reduced Alaska to nothing more than a debit card to pay off national environmental groups in an election year…We’re sanctioning Alaska while we’re boosting foreign resources. And you don’t pay attention, you overlook the pollution, the human rights abuses, the regimes that it enables, from Russia to Iran,” Murkowski said.

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Kevin Killough is a reporter for Just the News.



Reprinted with permission from Just the News.

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