Alaskan Lawmakers Blast Biden’s ‘Outrageous’ Decision To Halt Arctic Drilling

  • June 3, 2021
  • /   The Daily Wire
  • /   News
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Top elected officials for Alaska slammed President Joe Biden’s decision to freeze oil development in an Arctic oil preserve.

The Biden administration suspended oil and gas leases in the 1002 Area, a federally-designated oil preserve, of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on Tuesday, reversing a Trump administration achievement in opening up the area after decades of lobbying by Alaska officials.

Republican Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy joined Alaska’s congressional delegation in slamming the Biden administration decision.

“The Biden administration’s actions are not unexpected but are outrageous nonetheless,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. “Suspending leases in Alaska’s 1002 Area is in direct conflict with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, through which Congress mandates an oil and gas leasing program be established on the non-wilderness Coastal Plain, and ordered at least two lease sales by 2024.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) added: “DOI’s announcement suspending leases in the 1002 Area goes against the law, facts, the science, and the will of the Native communities on the North Slope. It is nothing more than a naked political move by the Biden administration to pay off its extreme environmental allies.”

The closure of the 1002 Area “disregards that fact-based scientific work, as well as the property interests of those who hold these leases, including the State of Alaska,” Sullivan continued. “It also utterly disregards BLM scientists and Alaskans from across the political spectrum — Republicans, Democrats, Independents, unions, working families, as well the Alaska Natives who live closest to the area and who fought for decades for the right to allow for the responsible development of the 1002 Area of ANWR in order to strengthen our communities and build a better life for our children.”

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said: “I am extremely dismayed by the Administration’s decision to freeze oil leases in ANWR. Make no mistake; this suspension is a grave one, not only for those employed by Alaska’s energy industry but also for the Alaska Native community of Kaktovik.”

A tribe of Alaska natives living in Kaktovik village on the state’s Northern Slope, where ANWR is located, have long pushed to open up the 1002 Area to oil development. In 2017, Kaktovik village tribal administrator Matthew Rexford pushed Congress to open up the 1002 in a committee hearing.

“We do not approve of efforts to turn our homeland into one giant national park, which literally guarantees us a fate with no economy, no jobs, reduced subsistence and no hope for the future of our people,” Rexford told the committee. “We are already being impacted by restrictions of access to the federal lands for subsistence purposes – this is really disturbing to us since we have lived here long before there ever was a refuge designated.”

Alan Weitzner, head of Alaska’s Industrial Development and Export Authority also expressed his disappointment in the Biden administration’s decision to Anchorage Daily News. He did not rule out a lawsuit over the Biden order.

“We are very disappointed with this decision,” Weitzner said. “This is a major move the Biden administration has taken, and we’re trying to digest it. … We remain very focused on the rights we have under those leases.”

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