Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska’s congressional delegation denounced the Biden administration’s decision to freeze oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending environmental review.
“I oppose this assault on Alaska’s economy and will use every means necessary to undo this egregious federal overreach,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a joint statement from Alaska’s top political leaders.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young also had sharp criticism about the order to pause signed ANWR energy leases in the refuge's coastal plain.
“The Biden administration’s actions are not unexpected but are outrageous nonetheless,” Murkowski said.
The suspension conflicts with a mandate by Congress in 2017 for an oil and gas leasing program and at least two lease sales by 2024, Murkowski said.
The suspension of oil and gas leases on ANWR's coastal plain "goes against the law, facts, the science and the will of the Native communities on the North Slope," Sullivan said.
"It is nothing more than a naked political move by the Biden administration to pay off its extreme environmental allies,” he said.
ANWR's coastal plain was set aside for petroleum exploration and potential development, under federal legislation passed in 1980, according to the joint statement.
“We have conducted extensive environmental reviews and have successfully carried out lease sales. This is not the time to roll back our progress in ANWR, especially amid an economic downturn caused by the pandemic,” Young warned the administration.
“I call on President Biden to honor the law and the will of Alaskans, and to reverse this decision that will harm so many of our state's families,” he said.
Modernized drilling techniques have substantially decreased the footprint of oil and gas activities on the environment, according to the joint statement.
“Alaska does responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic under stricter environmental standards than anywhere else in the world,” Dunleavy said. “Yet the federal government is focused on trying to stop our ability to produce oil and gas. Each action they take demonstrates a failure to comprehend the worldwide demand for oil and gas.”
Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.