Although there seems little Alaska’s top lawmakers can do, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the entire D.C. delegation issued statements today condemning the Bureau of Land Management’s intention to close millions of acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which has in the past been available for resource development.
“This request for additional stay and accompanying information makes clear the Federal government intends another unwarranted hit to Alaska and the nation,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “What they propose would further harm Alaska’s oil industry and disproportionately negatively affect Alaska Natives. The U.S. Department of Interior proposes to lock-down Alaska, take away local opportunities, resources, and other benefits that the National Petroleum Reserve is intended for. 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.”
The Biden administration announced on Monday it is are choosing Alternative A – the “No Action Alternative” from the NPR-A’s 2020 Integrated Activity Plan, as its preferred alternative.
This would close approximately half of the surface acreage of the reserve to energy leasing and regresses NPR-A management back to policies established in 2013 under the Obama Administration.
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, Dunleavy said in a statement.
The announcement disregards the concerns and input of the local Alaska Native people who rely on the NPR-A for employment and much needed funding for infrastructure projects and community needs through the Impact Mitigation Grant Fund, which is funded exclusively through royalties and revenues generated from oil & gas development in the NPR-A.
The groups affected by this decision, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, and the North Slope Borough, reported concerns with yesterday’s decision by the Biden administration, which claims that Biden’s top public policy goal is to advance racial equity and support underserved communities, yet contradicts these values with this decision. If the Biden Administration goes through with it, approximately half of the surface acreage of the reserve, which is roughly the size of Indiana, to energy leasing.
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, issued the following statements:
“With zero analysis or consultation with Alaskans, the Biden administration has decided to upend the NPR-A’s current management plan to return to an outdated policy that is worse for our state’s economy, worse for our nation’s energy security, and contrary to federal law,” Senator Murkowski said. “BLM claims a need for greater ‘balance’ in managing this area, but fails to realize that balance is what will be lost through this move. 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. 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.”
“There they go again. Yesterday it was 20 executive actions from the Biden administration targeting our state’s economic opportunities and future, today it’s 21. 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,” said Senator Sullivan. “Moving to revert back to the 2013 Obama administration version, which removes roughly fifty percent of the NPRA from oil and gas development, will hurt Alaska’s economic future, our nation’s security, and likely violates federal law. 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. I will continue to fight this war on Alaska’s workers and economy with everything I’ve got.”
“For years, the NPR-A has been crucial to providing affordable energy to families across our country. 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? This decision is yet another insult among a series of anti-Alaska actions taken by this Administration. By reverting to the 2013 IAP, BLM is attempting to shut down almost 50% of the NPR-A – that’s over 11 million acres. To put this in perspective, the President’s home state of Delaware could fit in this part of the NPR-A about seven times over. 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,” said Congressman Young. “This reversion, championed by bureaucrats thousands of miles away from the NPR-A, is dead wrong. I condemn it and call on President Biden to end his Administration’s attacks on Alaska’s economy and way of life.”
BLM administers the NPR-A under the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act and other federal laws. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the 23 million-acre region on the western North Slope – roughly the size of the state of Indiana – contains 8.7 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil.