Alaska Delegation & Governor Criticize Biden Interior Department for Stalling ANWR

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, and Governor Mike Dunleavy (all R-Alaska) issued the following statements criticizing today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the agency is initiating the supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) process for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This comes on the heels of the Interior Department suspending all oil and gas leases for portions of the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR in June pending the outcome of another environmental review. The leases were issued in January pursuant to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which authorized responsible energy development in ANWR. 

“Alaskans for over 40 years have urged Congress to develop and implement a leasing program for the Coastal Plain,” said Senator Murkowski. “With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Secretary is directed to establish two area wide leasing sales, not less than 400,000 acres each in the Coastal Plain. A distinguished team of career experts and scientists at the Department of the Interior spent thousands of hours over nearly two years developing a full range of alternatives and protective mitigation measures that would apply to all oil and gas activities in the 1002 Area, and now this administration is going to throw it all away and start over because they don’t agree with it. That’s politics plain and simple. I expect the administration to fulfill Congress’s timely direction by the deadline of 2024.” 

“BLM conducted years of fact-based, scientific work in developing a durable EIS and leasing program for the non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR, as required by federal law. Today, the Biden administration has thrown the work of the BLM career scientists out the window in just another political stall tactic at the behest of radical environmental groups and far-left members of the administration,” said Senator Sullivan. “By initiating this supplemental EIS, the Biden administration is ignoring the will of Congress, the will of Alaskans, and the best interests of the Alaska Native communities on the North Slope. This is lawlessness, pure and simple. This may be what ‘building back better’ looks like for federal bureaucrats and radical environmental groups, but it certainly is not for hard-working Alaskan families or the people who actually call ANWR home. I call on Secretary Haaland to listen to the voices of Alaska Natives and Alaskans, accept the science in the existing EIS, and stop the relentless war on Alaska’s economy and working families.”

“As if the suspension of drilling leases was not devastating enough to our state, today’s attempt to delay resource exploration in ANWR through bureaucratic red tape only insults Alaskans further” said Congressman Young. Throughout the process leading up to the lease sales, care was taken to ensure that laws were followed and environmental requirements were met. An EIS has long since been successfully completed, and requiring a second one is duplicative, wasteful, and an affront to taxpayers. Alaskans have been balancing resource development with environmental conservation for decades; we know how to do it and we do it right. We do not need another EIS, and we cannot keep moving the goalposts. Today, I call on the Biden Administration to uphold the law and allow development to continue.” 

“This announcement is another example of the Biden Administration attempting to shut down Alaska’s primary industry to appease radical environmental groups determined to turn our state into one big national park,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “A supplemental EIS only serves to void the results of the environmental study that was already completed and found that oil and gas development in the 1002 area of ANWR, an area set aside for oil and gas exploration, can take place without harming the environment. Alaska is America’s energy warehouse and we can develop the resources in ANWR while protecting the refuge, because no one is more protective of our land and waters than Alaskans.”

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