Alaska senators say Biden administration continues its ‘war’ on the state



(The Center Square) – A policy that keeps 28 acres of Alaska land under federal control drew the ire of Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who said the Biden administration continues to attack the state.

The Bureau of Land Management announced it would revoke a January 2021 environmental impact statement that would have lifted a public land order and returned the land to the state. The move came after the Biden administration had conducted its own environmental impact statement.

Murkowski said the action would not be acceptable in any other state.

“With this action, the Biden administration has wasted an opportunity to do right by Alaska by refusing to lift a single acre of a single PLO anywhere in our state, instead keeping all of these lands in a restricted status,” Murkowski said. “This is effectively a new form of administrative land withdrawal, even though most PLOs in Alaska have served their purpose and are no longer needed.”

Sullivan said the final EIS is part of a pattern by the Department of Interior that betrays Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans.

“The Secretary twice committed to me three years ago to expeditiously execute the Alaska Native Vietnam Veteran Allotment Program—pursuant to the provision I authored in the 2019 Dingell Act. Yet, at every turn, she has done exactly the opposite, throwing up endless delay tactics and unnecessary complications, and drastically limiting the lands available for selection by these great Americans who sacrificed for our country. To date, no more than 29 of them have received their congressionally-mandated allotments under the program, and sadly, many may not live long enough to see the land that is their birthright.”

It’s the second time in less than a week that Alaska officials have challenged a Biden administration policy.

Alaska would have made billions in royalties if the DOI had not canceled nine oil and gas leases, Attorney General Treg Taylor said in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Federal Claims. The federal government should be held accountable and pay the state, officials said.

“Oil and gas production from those leases could greatly contribute to our nation’s energy independence and the economy of our state,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said. “This about-face by the federal government opposes the direction given by Congress and deprives Alaska of our natural resource rights.”

The state also sued the Biden administration in U.S. District Court in Alaska over a new rule that makes more than half of the National Petroleum Reserve off-limits for oil and gas exploration.

“The inmates are truly running the Biden Administration asylum,” said John Boyle, Department of Natural Resources commissioner. “This National Petroleum Reserve rule is nothing more than a consolation prize to the radical environmentalist groups upset by the Willow decision. And the people of the State of Alaska are left to hold the bag and bear the terrible consequences.”

It’s not just the government challenging the Biden administration.

Alaska’s North Slope residents filed a lawsuit, saying the new rules limiting oil and gas exploration there would hurt their economy.

“For example, the North Slope Borough was created to ensure that the local people would benefit and be provided services from the oil and gas industry through the ability to tax industry,” the lawsuit said. “These tax receipts provide the vast majority of revenue for the North Slope Borough, which is then used to provide a wide range of essential public services, including sewer, water, heat, sanitation, schools, clinics, hospitals, wildlife and fisheries management and research, infrastructure, and social and cultural programs.”

The group is asking a judge to vacate the rule and declare it invalid.

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