Rick Whitbeck: Secretary Deb Haaland and Interior are attacking rural America



It has been 20 long months since Joe Biden took the oath of office and took direct aim at America’s energy industry.

For all his documented failures as president, Biden has succeeded in his promise to fulfill a green agenda, beginning with his first day in office, as he used executive orders to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and halting development in the 10-02 area of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

No one on Team Biden has done a better job of following the eco-left’s green playbook than Interior Sec. Deb Haaland, who has used her position to push for economic, cultural and racial justice as cornerstones of her department’s mission. She has traveled across the country while in her role, under the guise of learning more about the balance between public lands and economic opportunity.

However, a review of her actions shows a clear imbalance, one tilted heavily toward environmental lock-ups rather than economic opportunity for the very people and communities who need those jobs the most.

Earlier this year, Haaland traveled to Minnesota, where she stayed in the Twin Cities (hardly ‘public land’ that Interior focuses on), drawing the ire of Republican Rep. Pete Stauber. Haaland could have traveled to Northeast Minnesota and the Twin Metals nickel mining project that she had issued an executive order blocking development of just months earlier, but she chose not to.

Haaland failed to intervene in cases brought by environmentalists to halt leasing for coal mining on federal lands and to keep Nevada and California-based lithium mining opportunities from moving forward, even as America faces supply-chain dependence on Communist China, Russia and African-warlord-controlled mines for critical and strategic minerals needed for the environmental lobby’s desired ‘green’ revolution.

She has even stifled development opportunities in her home state of New Mexico, whose economic outlook is ranked 38th in the nation. The Navajo Nation, the nearest Indigenous people to Chaco Canyon in the northwestern portion of the state, have lambasted Haaland and the Biden administration for ignoring tribal consultation requirements and further disregarding the Navajo’s desire for a smaller (5-mile) buffer zone around the Canyon; one that would allow the Navajo to continue with its oil and gas development projects in the area, rather than be shut down by Interior’s larger, 10-mile proposed zone.

But nowhere has Haaland targeted quite like our state of Alaska, where Interior controls nearly 63% of our acreage through public lands, national parks, forests and wildlife areas.

Haaland and the Interior Department have acted as nothing short of attack dogs against development opportunities. She celebrated the cancellation of development of ANWR’s 10-02 area, even though local Indigenous people — the Inupiat in Kaktovik, located within ANWR’s borders — overwhelmingly support the project, as they have seen how nearby Prudhoe Bay has benefitted villages across the North Slope of Alaska.

When a federal judge tossed out an approved development plan for ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) in July 2021, it took nearly a year and constant pressure from Alaska’s business, political and congressional leaders for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue a plan to re-review the project. The delay, overseen by Haaland and the Bureau of Land Management, could delay the project for years. With global energy supply restricted, the 180,000 barrel-per-day project would be welcomed by consumers.

Even after visiting our state and professing a desire to listen to those closest to the projects Interior has influence and control over, the hits just kept on coming.

Subsequent rulings included shrinking the land available for development in NPR-A by nearly 50% from a plan approved by the previous administration, cancelling a regulatorily required Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale, and a pause and subsequent requirement to reexamine the obligations to build an access road to the Ambler Mining District in Northwest Alaska, an area rich in the same critical and strategic minerals previously noted as being nearly wholly imported from less-than-friendly sources.

Deb Haaland and her bias against traditional energy has been devastating for rural America, including numerous areas noted as being economically and racially disadvantaged. If she really cared about her stated mission to bring opportunity to the poorest areas of the country, she would stop with the assaults, focus on balancing environmental stewardship with responsible development, and encourage — not block — projects and prospects that could bring tens of thousands of traditional energy jobs back to rural America.

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


  1. So terrible. I grew up between two Native American tribal reservations. They were considered some of the poorest tribes in the nation with tremendous poverty and despair. Then one day, in the 80’s, they decided to use their sovereign status and open casinos. Maybe not good for society as a whole, but they grew and grew and became huge entertainment facilities. Today they are some of the wealthiest tribes in the nation. Happiness and prosperity. Our native tribes will unfortunately remain in poverty and despair by their own kind.

  2. Thank you Dan and Lisa, for voting to confirm her even after everyone warned you that she would do exactly what she is doing……..

    • Hey I didn’t our Senior Repub the Dean of Congress, Rep Young conveyed a special escort for this lady. Funny how the trail of voting evidence of AK repubs links them to the dems…. Calling all repubs! Calling all repubs! Political leadership excuses half off! Just see Mitch McConnell for your redeemable coupon!
      When will you realize your party sailed without you? How much evidence do you requiring you unbelieving people? Stop feeding the party.
      The Patriot Act, the debt, their lack of commitment to freedom…
      You do not have to go down with that sinking ship.
      But most of you will since you lack the ability to see outside the box you have placed over your head.

  3. Devastating rural?
    Take a look around. It’s affecting everyone negatively.
    There’s a world of hurt coming and it’s not going to stop at the tree line.

  4. Chairman Joe said he was gonna do. He actually did.

    Elections have consequences.

    Remember mean Orange Man isn’t tweeting anymore as you shiver this winter.

  5. Thank you Princes Lisa for your vote and support of Alaskans. Without you we would not have the current fed wrecking ball in office.

  6. Interior does not have jurisdiction over US Forest Service land. That belongs under US Department of Agriculture.

  7. Ambler is a foreign owned mine and will take the gold, and the profits leaving Alaska with nothing but a mess to clean up

    • How many times do I have to repeat:

      Only a few totalitarian countries own and operate large mining operations, and usually only within their own borders.

      Almost all of the other large mining corporations are multi-national, owned by shareholders around the world, with Americans usually owning the lion’s share, since we have the most money available to invest.

      Ambler is a mining district, not a mining company.

      The Pebble mining prospect is wholly owned by a Canadian registered corporation, of which the lion’s share of stock is, in turn, owned by investors around the world, to include a very large percentage of Americans.

      Your talking point just doesn’t hold water.

      • You did not comment about my point that foreigners taking the gold and the money leaving Alaska with the cleanup, did you read the legal disclaimers of these mining prospects? have you ever worked for or owned a hard rock or placer claim, how long have you lived in Alaska? Are you aware of the Mt. Polley mining disaster in Canada, you know the one that was supposed to be the model do no harm operation?
        Did you know Northern Dynasty’s pebble prospect has lost all they’er partners and major investors, Rio Tinto, First Quantum, Anglo American, Mitsubishi because they lied about the Red Salmon spawning grounds?
        Have you even read the pebble plan and mining plat?

  8. We can thank the three stooges, Murkowski. Sullivan and Young for voting for her without vetting her. They were more interested in showing the bush that they supported corrupt indigenous government officials. Biden wants to destroy the fossil fuel industry, period.

  9. “corrupt indigenous (tribal) government officials” There are corrupt indigenous federal, state, and lesser county/city government officials.
    We are more intelligent than the dominate society credits us for; not only can we learn by your examples, but we have managed to surpass you, in some areas. Peltola and Haaland being prime exhibits.

    • You are correct Joseph, but I would like to say when we were on the Navajo reservation almost 30 years ago now, that was during a time when the Navajo chief was arrested for embezzlement. They hadn’t done census in the tribe for a decade or so, and they were issuing gasoline allotments and other things to people with their tribal cards. What was happening was anytime anyone died, the first one to the body took the card. Many old women had multiple cars and were considered to be the richest in the tribe. The tribal Chief himself was jailed for taking thousands of dollars and in crown point New Mexico where we were the audit turned up that there was a missing RV. Apparently they had a motor coach for some reason to all people or I don’t know why they needed one but it was no longer around so somebody took that for their own pleasure probably. My point is that anytime there’s money and power involved there’s bound to be corruptness. That’s just my own observation.

  10. Americans are climbing 🧗‍♀️ out of an era of being hoodwinked on an industrial 🏭 scale. The alleged “public land” I believe are “assets” owned wholly by the British Monarchy in foreign actual corporations registered in and by the City of London. You are just encouraged to play there under orders of the rangers employed by the British “firm”. It’s best for them if you don’t know that. So you don’t. Alaska is one percent in private fee stripped generally of mineral rights. How can we make wealth like that? We can’t. You have let this “state” become hog tied. Not very impressive. Truly time to consider conservative patriots to represent your now diminished interests or embrace the CCCP.

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