Murkowski, Sullivan Lead Effort to Lift Outdated PLOs, Remove Barriers to Public Land Access in Alaska

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) have reintroduced S.175, which would codify the revocation of five Public Land Orders (PLOs), undoing the Biden administration’s efforts to unfairly halt access to federal public lands in Alaska.

This legislation would return nearly 28 million acres of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) territory in Alaska to “multiple use” status by lifting several PLOs still in place after decades of being held in limbo. The revocation of these outdated PLOs was postponed by the Biden administration-led Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just weeks after former Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed the order revoking these land withdrawals.

“Alaskans deserve better than whiplash caused by the federal government when it comes to land access—it’s time to lift PLOs, which have proven to be nothing more than obsolete barriers to land access. It is infuriating that the federal government continues to play politics and refuses to fulfill its land conveyance commitments to the State of Alaska—harming our resource economy and our ability to responsibly produce and develop critical materials like oil, gas, and minerals. Rather than kicking the can on lifting these outdated PLOs, it’s time for the Biden Administration to allow Alaskans to responsibly manage our own lands,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.“Through this legislation, Secretary Bernhardt’s order to revoke the outdated PLOs—a decision informed by BLM staff, following environmental reviews—will be codified, allowing for Alaskans to rightfully access millions of acres of federal public lands. This effort will return millions of acres to multiple use status, allowing for selections to be made by the State, Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), and by Alaska Native Veterans through the Alaska Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotment Program.” 

“In 2019, after years of hard work and advocacy, primarily from Alaska’s Native veteran leaders, we finally secured the opportunity for thousands of Alaska Native veterans to apply for the land allotments they had missed because of their service during the Vietnam War,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “Remarkably, in 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland halted the public land order process that would’ve made the promised lands available for selection, committing a grave injustice against thousands of Alaska Native veterans. Sadly, many of these veterans who fought for our country and suffered discrimination thereafter have not lived to receive the land our federal government promised them. And, because of this administration’s policies, many more may not either. Senator Murkowski and I have introduced legislation to correct this injustice, codify these PLOs, and finally deliver the lands that are the birthright of these Alaskans. I ask my colleagues to join us in fulfilling our country’s sacred obligation to some of the most patriotic Americans.” 


  • In January 2021, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the revocation of 11 outdated PLOs issued in 1972 and 1973 put in place to allow Alaska Native Corporations to select lands promised to them by Congress 50 years ago. This important step allowed for the BLM to revoke the PLOs.
  • In April 2021, in a unilateral and unnecessary action, the BLM postponed the PLO revocations, requiring further environmental analysis on the five public land orders with a two-year stay in the implementation of the PLOs revocations.
  • In November 2021, after Senator Murkowski urged the federal government to fulfill its promise to Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans, the Department of the Interior announced the first federal land allotments under the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veteran Land Allotment Program. The Dingell Act, Senator Murkowski’s comprehensive lands package which was signed into law in March 2019, established the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program based on legislation sponsored by Sullivan, Murkowski, and the late Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). Lifting these PLOs would open the entire 28 million acres for selection under the Alaska Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program. 

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