Rick Whitbeck: An inventory of the damage Biden has done to Alaska



Even before Joe Biden took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2021, there was clear writing on the wall for the damage his administration would do to Alaska’s energy community.

We just didn’t know how bad it was going to get.

After all, his campaign was riddled with promises to the radical environmental movement.  Two were going to be exceptionally impactful to our state: a first-day ban of oil and gas leasing on federal lands and in federal waters.

Then, an immediate closing of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to development, even after Congress had authorized its opening in 2017 and after its initial lease sale had been held and winning bidders contracted with in early 2021. 

When the eco-Left saw its champions named to Cabinet-level positions in the Departments of Energy, Interior, Transportation and the EPA, astute Alaskans knew it was going to be a long four years. 

And we were correct.  

The Biden administration has – to date – carried out over 55 administrative and executive orders related to resource development projects or opportunities in Alaska.  As tracked by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, only two have been what could even be considered “wins” for the state, and one came with a huge trade-off.

When ConocoPhillips’ Willow project was approved back in March, the environmental movement acted like team Biden had committed eco-treason. 

In fact, while the re-authorization of Willow was something to celebrate, it came with a series of exceptionally damaging long-term trade-offs. First, the project was scaled back from five drill pads to three, which will limit the amount of oil that can be recovered. 

The much bigger impact will come from the 13.8 million on-shore, and 2 million off-shore acres that were ordered off-limits to any future development efforts. Those lands and waters all are adjacent to where oil and gas deposits have already been discovered.  How many jobs and how much more revenue to local, state and federal coffers were sacrificed in the name of “going green”?

There have been significant efforts from radical environmental organizations to thwart other development projects across our state, and they’ve been given a boost from Team Biden.

The Ambler mining district is known to be rich in copper and critical and strategic minerals that are needed if the country is to establish domestic supplies to help us ‘go green’ and transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  While that idea in and of itself is nonsensical, so is the ongoing fight over accessing the Ambler district via a congressionally authorized corridor. 

From the cries of “social and environmental justice” emanating from the Left, you’d think the plan was to build a 10-lane superhighway through the most pristine area of Earth.  In fact, the 211-mile, 2-lane gravel road will be strictly controlled and private, allowing only for extracted components to reach the Dalton Highway and the rest of Alaska’s road system.

The Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska is the western world’s largest deposit of copper, which faces a worldwide shortage under the Left’s ‘green’ agenda.  The rabid nature of the environmental movement against Pebble has been going on for nearly two decades. Even after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final environmental impact statement providing an unabashed thumbs-up for the project, the mine’s permits were disallowed for ‘public interest’ reasons that reeked of political shenanigans. 

Next, the EPA vetoed the project, citing watershed regulations that were just overturned by the Supreme Court in Sackett vs EPA.  It will be interesting to see what narrative the Left uses to attempt to deny Pebble going forward.  They certainly won’t be based on facts, since the science is clear that the mine’s plan for development is sound.

If past is prologue, the next 17 months will see the Biden administration attempt to circumvent federal laws, the Supreme Court and science to build its case for protecting the planet at any cost.  Those efforts will continue to land Alaska in the crosshairs of radical environmentalists, their wealthy ideologue donors from the Lower 48 and the small-yet-vocal minority of Alaskans who would rather see development efforts cease altogether.

If you want to help counter those misguided efforts, I invite you to contact me at [email protected].  Let’s talk about building a coalition of rational, like-minded Alaskans who will work for a brighter, better energy future.  We can – and must – do that for the sake and future of the Great Land.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. In addition to emailing him at [email protected], you can follow him on Twitter @PTFAlaska.


  1. I’m assuming this is vol 1 of how many…?

    I’m old. I may not live long enough to calculate the damage that fool has done.

    Bonus points for all the white suburban women who voted for Biden because Orange Man was icky and mean.

  2. Pebble’s parent company Northern Dynasty just lost a 6.4 million dollar law suit for lying to investors and partners about value and size of the would be mine. Obama, Trump and Biden destroyed any idea of a mine being built in the middle of worlds largest red salmon spawning grounds.
    Rick Whitbeck was incorrect about the motive for the mine not being allowed.

  3. Rick, Great explanation, Great focus points, Excellent facts … But(!), there’s an even greater problem and it’s quite visible, it is clearly the supporting organizations and people whom voted for him and continue to carry his water. Additionally, just look at the societal culture war ongoing in our communities. Look around, you’ll most likely find family – friends – neighbors – coworkers, maybe even organizations that you recognize and/or a part of, that have put this disaster in-motion, wreaking havoc for Alaskans and Alaska prosperity.

  4. Don’t forget them interfering with the last Cook Inlet gas leases. It will be so depressing if we end up importing natural gas from overseas.

  5. It’s rather interesting to me that all the articles that complain about anything and everything that President Biden supports seem to be saying that the alternative would have been at least equal or better. When people say, “but, but, Trump” at least there is a valid, verifiable reason for bringing it up. I would think, that in Alaska, of all places, folk would have some serious thoughts about the seeming disregard that past President had for the military, law, and judicial system.

  6. What recourse do we have? I say we just developed our state as we see fit. Throw the feds out. We don’t need there money and the people who say we do can move to a different state. The feds need to be cut down a few notches as they think they are god. Where are states rights to develop our own state? Feds go home and don’t come back. We will rent them space for the military with restrictions of course.

  7. Don’t forget the environmental groups in Seattle claiming we here in the SE are killing all the salmon which in turn is starving their resident killer whales. Meanwhile, heavy shoreline development and hundreds of homeless camps with no sanitary facilities pour waste and chemicals into Puget Sound. Go figure.

  8. Don’t kid yourselves the fishing industry is now the target of the environmental nuts. So all you burkinstock wearing salmon fisherman be where they are coming for your livelihood. You are no different than the oil and gas or mining business.

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