A Biden administration decision that counteracts former President Donald Trump’s plan to expand areas of Alaska that could be used for energy development is being denounced by state officials.
The Department of the Interior has taken a step back from Trump’s plans to allow oil leasing and development in more than 80 percent of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, Reuters reported this week.
Instead, the Biden administration will revert to an Obama administration plan that limited development to about half of the reserve.
“This decision reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of reviewing existing oil and gas programs to ensure balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations,” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said in a statement.
The bureau is a division of Department of the Interior.
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said changing course, which will hurt the Alaskan economy, could be illegal. Sullivan’s comments, along with those of fellow Alaska Republicans Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young were posted in a news release on Sullivan’s website.
“No state in the country has been singled out like Alaska with such a destructive war on our working families, which hits our Alaska Native communities particularly hard,” Sullivan said.
“Moving to revert back to the 2013 Obama administration version, which removes roughly 50 percent of the NPR-A from oil and gas development, will hurt Alaska’s economic future, our nation’s security, and likely violates federal law.”
NPR-A is the acronym for the reserve.
“Reverting back to the 2013 management plan is not only arbitrary and contrary to good science, it will be harmful to the very people and issues the Biden administration purports to care most about—indigenous communities, and racial and environmental equity. Instead, the Biden White House is taking its orders from radical extreme environmental groups who care nothing about Alaskans,” Sullivan said.
Young said at a time the nation needs more oil, the Biden administration is choking off development.
“This move by the Biden Administration is not only insulting to the hardworking men and women on the North Slope, but also extremely foolish. Gas prices around the nation are soaring; why then would President Biden and the BLM want to kneecap our domestic production, thereby emboldening our oil-producing adversaries overseas?” Young said in the press release on Sullivan’s website.
“No state should be subject to such a heavy-handed decision, and certainly not Alaska. Our state has proven that conservation and energy development can go hand in hand. Despite this, the Administration continues working to stifle American energy production and economic opportunity in Alaska.”
Murkowski said the decision makes little sense.
“This is a petroleum reserve, specifically designated for energy development, located within a state that already has tens of millions of acres of parks, refuges, and federal wilderness,” she said.
“The current management plan was carefully crafted to protect the reserve’s most sensitive areas and includes numerous safeguards for responsible development. Sweeping restrictions like this – which are being imposed even as the Biden administration implores OPEC+ to produce more oil – demonstrate everything that is wrong with its energy policies.”
Secretary Deb Haaland Ignores North Slope Iñupiat on National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Integrated Activity Plan. Biden Administration Caters to ENGOs over Alaska Natives. https://t.co/9zT2Xi27Kb via @IndianCountry #ICTPressPool
— ICTPressPool (@ICTPressPool) January 11, 2022
“This is another sign of the federal government turning its back on Alaska and hampering domestic energy production. The U.S. Department of Interior is putting the nation in a situation where we have to rely on foreign oil countries at a time for growing prices and concern for American consumers,” Dunleavy said, adding: “The current administration has shown a pattern of routinely attempting to shut down domestic energy production in Alaska and other parts of the United States.”
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