Alaska Delegation Rebukes Administration for Delaying PLO Revocation

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, issued the following statement after the Department of the Interior postponed the revocation of public land orders (PLO) signed by former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. By removing the PLOs, the land will return to multiple-use status and there could be the potential for additional, responsible resource development on nearly 10 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) territory in western Alaska.

“President Biden has repeatedly singled out Alaska through a number of Executive Orders and administrative actions, and it absolutely must stop—for the sake of our economy, national security, and the livelihoods of all the those who call Alaska home. Under the previous administration, Secretary Bernhardt and the dedicated staff of BLM Alaska worked responsibly and in good-faith to revoke a number of PLOs issued in the early 1970s. Those PLOs have already fulfilled their original purpose and now needlessly stand in the way of Alaska’s economic recovery and growth,” said the Delegation. “The Interior Department opened this land up for responsible resource development with Alaska’s best interest in mind and consistent with BLM multiple use mission, which includes ensuring the productivity of our public lands. These delays also have significant implications for the implementation of the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Act, as they are preventing Native veterans from being able to apply for that land. As a state, we have proven over and over that Alaskans are world leaders in ensuring that resource development does not come at the cost of environmental safety, nor the cultures and traditions of Alaska Native communities If the Biden administration believes that greater fiscal certainty amid the ongoing pandemic is urgent and necessary, delaying good-paying jobs and new revenue for Alaska is not the proper path forward.”

The 60-day delay will push the revocation of the PLO’s effective date from February 18 to April 19, 2021.

Background: On January 19, the Department of the Interior published a final notice in the Federal Register to revoke, in part, 11 PLOs issued in 1972 and 1973. The PLOs were put in place to allow Alaska Native Corporations to select lands promised to them by Congress 50 years ago. Since the selections are complete, the Bureau of Land Management recommended that the PLOs be revoked through the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula Resource Management Plan.