Alaska Delegation Continues to Make the Case Against Proposed NPR-A Rule

Anchorage, AK—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) and U.S. Representative Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) today released a letter they sent to Secretary Deb Haaland last week, urging the Department of the Interior (DOI) to withdraw a misguided rule targeting the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).

In their letter, the delegation called attention to four recent developments that “reinforce why DOI must change its approach and withdraw this unlawful rule”:

1.    The Bureau of Land Management’s empty answer to a question for the record of a recent House Natural Resources hearing, which reinforces the delegation’s view that “DOI has failed to conduct proper consultation with the Alaska Natives who will be most harmed by this rule.”

2.    Report language that Murkowski added to her now-enacted Fiscal Year 2024 Interior-Environment bill, urging DOI to engage in “in additional meaningful, in-person consultations with any federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporations affected by the proposed rule.”

3.    Public reporting that shows how the draft rule is already having negative economic impacts in Alaska through the suspension of three companies’ leases in the petroleum reserve totaling more than one million acres. This clearly conflicts with the draft rule’s hollow assertion that it “will not affect existing leases and therefore would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses holding these leases.” And,

4.    The Alaska Legislature’s overwhelming passage of a joint resolution “urging DOI to both meaningfully engage with tribes, local governments, and affected communities and to withdraw the draft NPR-A rule.” The resolution asserts that DOI’s rule “(1) lacks the benefit of consultation; (2) does not align with the congressionally adopted policy of oil and gas production, subject to reasonable mitigation measures, as reflected in 42 U.S.C. 6501 (Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976); and (3) does not serve the public interest.”

The delegation concluded their letter by reiterating a few of the reasons why DOI should withdraw this rule:

“At this point, it is abundantly clear: no statewide elected leaders and virtually no state legislators in Alaska support the NPR-A rule. That is a useful proxy for the fact that very few Alaskans support the rule because it is unlawful, has been insufficiently analyzed, and the Department has treated the public process for it as a check-the-box-exercise.

“Instead of proper notice and robust consultation with those who stand to be most impacted, the Department has ignored Alaskans, especially the Alaska Natives who live on the North Slope, despite numerous promises that indigenous peoples will have a seat at the table in major decisions made by this administration. A DOI official, Katie Kovacs, openly admitted during a recent NPR-A Working Group meeting that the Department set the timelines for this rule to avoid the Congressional Review Act—regardless of the consequences for the public process.

“Rather than rushing this rule through to the finish line, we urge you to address its numerous serious flaws. The best place to start is with renewed consultation, which the Department has used as an excuse to reopen other rulemakings and environmental analyses in Alaska that have a far more extensive record than exists for this proposed rule.”

To read the delegation’s letter, click here. To read the delegation’s recent opinion piece about the draft NPR-A rule, click here.


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