Rick Whitbeck: In Alaska, with friends like Biden, who needs enemies?



Not all attention is good attention, and when it comes to Joe Biden and Alaska, the attention we get is anything but good. The Biden administration makes so many trips to our state that perhaps it’s time we tell them we just want to be friends.

In 2023 alone, we’ve seen the president visit twice. There’s also been five department secretaries or administrators come through the state, along with at least 50 more executive branch officials. The most recent was Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who spoke at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage last week.

This begs the obvious question: Why so much attention being shown to our state? A simple answer would be the wooing of moderate U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has shown a willingness to work across the aisle. However, there could be another reason altogether.

There’s a theory more in line with Team Biden’s usual strategy: By showing up and pretending to care about Alaska and Alaskans, the administration can continue to make policy decisions that harm our state and nation while giving itself political cover. After a number of these official visits, we’ve seen delays and obstruction on Alaska’s development projects, with Haaland’s Interior Department the most egregious offender, but far from the only one.

Since taking office, Biden and his team have amassed a list of nearly 60 executive orders and actions targeting Alaska’s resource development industries, including more than a dozen in 2023 alone.

In January, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a preemptive veto on Alaska’s trillion-dollar Pebble mine and its world-class copper deposit; that decision was immediately challenged in court. This came after numerous EPA leadership visits throughout 2022, endangering the nation’s largest untapped source of copper, which is needed for Biden’s “green revolution.”

In March, the Department of Interior pulled back from a land exchange that would have allowed a road to be built — and lives to be saved in emergency situations — between the Native villages of King Cove and Cold Bay. This followed Haaland’s visits to both communities in April of 2022, where she voiced understanding for the communities’ full-throated support for the road, agreeing to ‘find a way to proceed.’

Also in March was the trade-off of not only a 60%-of-original, scaled-back Willow oil and gas project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, aka NPR-A, but a moratorium of development activity for 15.8 million acres of on-shore and off-shore areas in and around NPR-A. These actions — again from Haaland’s Department of Interior — directly overrode previous presidential authority for the NPR-A development and congressional authorization of guaranteed access for developers to the area.

In September, Haaland ordered a full-stop cancellation of contracted leases in the “1002 Area” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, an area specifically authorized for development by Congress in its 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

This month, the Interior Department struck once again, releasing a substantively different environmental impact statement for the road to the Ambler Mining District, putting the congressionally authorized and mandated-access road to an area flush with copper, strategic and critical minerals on unstable footing. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s August 2022 visit to the state, and days spent with our fully supportive federal delegation, did little to sway his or Haaland’s dismissal of congressional authority.

Even Secretary Haaland’s appearance last week missed a golden opportunity to expand on the administration’s energy goals. In a 15-minute speech, she mentioned resource or energy policies in two sentences; this while speaking to hundreds of Alaskans who, by and large, have their living conditions better now than at any time in Alaska’s history, with regional resource development opportunities the main driver for their advancements.

For all the messaging from Biden and his team about securing domestic supplies of components and materials to electrify the grid and save the planet from the “climate crisis,” his actions in Alaska fail time and again to back up the bluster and walk the talk.

Sending high-ranking administrative officials back and forth between Washington, D.C., and Alaska only adds to the government’s carbon footprint, with little help for our country to show from their jet-setting activities.

Rick Whitbeck is Alaska state director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates American energy jobs.


  1. I was downstairs at 49th State Brewery last week when ANWR was being discussed with AIDEA as an afront of a broken promise by the Feds, while, ironically, Deb Haaland was upstairs discussing the opposite! That was why security was milling about outside and inside 49th State that night. Really? Is that just more drama to pretend that those conservatives are dangerous? Yeah, I heard we were burning and vandalizing…oh, that wasn’t the conservatives. But let’s pretend.
    I asked if I could attend at the front desk, where the entrance to the room was, but it was only if I was invited. I then asked if there would be an open mic and was told, “Oh no, we can’t do that. You can’t control what people might say!”
    Again, one side allows discussion. One side does not. Even if I hated oil and drilling and believed the world was going to end if one more person started their car, I hope I would welcome someone to try and change my mind.

  2. Most of these visits have Bush destinations or themes. It would be a basic assumption that they’re working the native community to solidify and excite their alliance. I’m sure the Bush/native role in keeping Murkowski in power hasn’t been lost in their attention, either. Also Ms. Peltola’s election probably has something to do with it. Make a few stops, hiss some BS with their forked tongues, strengthen the Democrat seat in the House, and hide in Alaska for a few days from the nightmares of their own creation waiting for them in DC.

  3. The first paragraph is very appropriate – I’m sure the hair-sniffer in chief and his demo’rat friends have more sexual fantasies in store for us.

    • And with this, we see one of the main problems with Alaska’s dependency on federal dollars, which make up 1/3 of our budget. We are not an independent state; we are a federal enclave. The federal government has an iron-clad grip on any major energy resource development, and there is nothing the politicians will do about it, not that they can’t, but won’t. We think we have a powerful governor, but when he refuses to fight for Alaskans and our land, he becomes just another spoke in the federal wheel of disaster we call the Biden administration. We need to develop our own sovereign lands, building genuine Alaskan GDP, so we can rely less on federal dollars year over year to gain our independence from the federal machinery that keeps grinding Alaska to a pulp. Rick Rydell was right many years ago; we need a strong executive to use his power. Unfortunately, Dunleavy is nothing but another globalist and is simply not the man for the job. We need a genuine purge of Juneau; these people are more interested in playing patsy to the globalist power structure than doing their job. Or perhaps they have forgotten that they have no power but merely represent the power of the people. Either way Alaska will continue its decline from a once great state with vast resources to a socialist government vassal attempting to live off the dividend that was created and funded during our few short capitalist years.

      • A careful review of the conditions of statehood make it clear the government never anticipated or intended us to be anything beyond a ward of said government.

        If there was ever any doubt, two successive democrat presidents (Carter and Clinton) took most of our land out of our control.

        We still have an ongoing problem with Seattle meddling in our business.

  4. The secretaries, and even brandon himself, are mere puppets – figureheads to divert from a serious Constitutional crisis: Who runs this country? Bureau’rats simply do not have the authority to countermand Congress. Who is controlling brandon? He is obviously not in control!

    • If only we knew who wrote the 17 EO’s Biden signed on his first day in office. It certainly wasn’t Joe.

  5. Let us not be ignorant and naive. Anything coming from this Administration and the Deep State // Rhinos // 4th Branch of Guv’ment (ie: Administrative State), related to the State of AK, is nothing short of self-serving, feeding their egos and narcissistic souls, while Tax Payers are stuck with the burden.

  6. I wouldn’t go to DC for love nor money due to the lack of portability of the US Constitution. I’d rather be in AK. “They” have created a place they no longer wish to be in what WAS known as DC. Alaska is better for their mental health too. Thanks for bring this up. This is what dystopia looks like. Especially if they aren’t “natives”. If they were natives they’d be treated like natives told to “fry themselves to crisps, etc.” each day of their lives in this frontier by Johnnie -come – lately. Anchorage🤣 you know what to do.

  7. Whitbeck was incorrect in writing pebble was worth a trillion dollars because pebble lost a fraud court case in June which proved the claims were worthless. Plus Pedro bay native Corporation forbid foreign pebble from using land necessary for ore slurry pipeline.
    Pebble also wanted to use Cook Inlet gas to power their operation competing with Anchorage.
    Bottom line is acid generated sulfides from ball mill would have caused wide spread contamination over a vast area of red salmon spawning grounds and downward south to Lake Iliamna.
    All of pebbles partners abandoned the project a long time ago and after being fleeced of money.

    • …”would have caused wide spread contamination over a vast area of red salmon spawning grounds and downward south to Lake Iliamna.” Have you actually looked at the maps? This is propaganda, plain and simple. There would have to be an earthquake bigger than any in recorded history (10+) to change that topography enough to cause that. I just wish the financially secure lodge owners and the few rich native corporate heads who have fought this (to keep their little slice of the earth from development) would stop being so selfish. This could have lifted a huge swath of western Alaska out of poverty but they can’t let that happen. Why do you think most of the North Slope natives are now pro-oil development? Because after almost 50 years, they have seen the positive impact on their people and know it’s been done environmentally right. I know lower 48 people can’t wrap their arms and minds around the real size of Alaska but we who have lived here a long time should grasp the immensity of this place. There is room for an unbelievable amount of wilderness and productive enterprise also.

      • I have been studying foreign owned pebble for approx: 19 years and have gone over the Alaska dept. of Resources claims plat, with all the claims that have been staked and recorded, 769 square miles consuming hundreds of small lakes, streams and 2 major rivers also the Pedro bay native corporations privately owned land which lies between Lake Iliamna and the mineral claims, has been denied to pebble.
        All federal permits have been denied. with Coast Guard permits pending.
        The earthen dam breech at Mt Polley mine in British Columbia which was promised to never fail spilled 27 million square meters of toxic slurry causing a major environmental catastrophe in 2014, as an example of many failed earthen dam breeches, there was no earthquake.

    • 3rd, your ignorance of mining is showing here, as proven by the failure of “widespread contamination over a vast area” in the case of Red Dog mine, for just one example, which is a pure sulfide (lead and zinc) deposit, and which has a virtually stellar environmental record.

      • Very good Jefferson, Red dog is not in the vicinity of the world largest Red salmon spawning grounds and Lake Iliamna where Salmon Frey live for one year.

        Pebble was proven a fraud in the courts and like Senator Ted Stevens said ”Wrong Mine, Wrong Place” 😉

        Supporting a foreign owned mine is traitorous.

        • Thank you, 3rd, for completing evading the point that I raised, and the facts, and logic and common sense as well.

          But I guess it was too much to expect a reasonable and intelligent response from a person who wholeheartedly supports the corruption, nepotism, federal government dependency, and statism of Princess Lisa.

  8. Well, when you play in the mud with pigs, they like it and you get dirty. That’s what happened to our senators and now we pay for it. Deb Haaland was ALWAYS out to destroy Alaska.

  9. Why so polite Rick? You totally left out the First Lady, Secretary of Interior and 75 Secret Agents, two flights for Armoured cars… all for a Federally funded campaign stop in Bethel, for Mary Peltola??

    Long live the infamous 2023 “Bethel Gag a Maggot Tour”!!

    • Thanks for pointing out the obvious Willy.
      It always hits harder when they show up in your area and cant just ignore them as everyone is “Starstruck” just by their presence in an out of ordinary stop.

  10. I was disappointed in no mention of Obama, Benghazi or the Illuminati during the comments. seems everyone has someone to blame but themselves. by drinking decades of Koolaid no one seems to “split the bet” by having a senator from each party, given the low population of Alaska. the split ticket gives us inordinate power except for the fanatics preaching the red ticket only. yet the state of Alaska has 60% undeclared voters registered.

    play with your plays, not your bodies. be smart. play the long game like a scratch golfer and fleece the mark, ie federal government. at least ted knew how to deliver bacon across the state when democrats were in power

    • What a contemptible attitude, UV, an attitude that is leading (if not has already led) to the bankruptcy and financial collapse of this nation: “Screw the taxpayers and the best interests of the nation, as long as I get mine!”

  11. This article is a great summary of the federal government’s latest transgressions against Alaskans. I’d like to view them as a body of individuals each with their own individual interests. Consistently painful as these transgressions are, as an Alaskan interested in resource development that is driven more by the interests of private developers than by the interests of any government, the observations of a former Secretary of State also rarely fails. That observation is that “Alaska is its own worst enemy”. Alaska continues to suffer death by a thousand cuts from both edges of the blade. One section of this article may have just scratched the surface of this other issue. The article is a very good one nonetheless.

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