Delegation Condemns Biden Administration Filing Against Alaska’s Ambler Road

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today released the following statements in response to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) court filing to reopen the Record of Decision for the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road project (Ambler Road). This project—which began permitting during the Obama administration—received final federal approval in July of 2020, but now faces months of supplemental environmental analysis.

“America’s lack of mineral security should be one of the Biden administration’s highest priorities, but its incoherent policies are making the problem worse. It’s stunning: on the very same day the President attempted to tout ‘progress’ on mineral development, his administration backtracked and set back this crucial project, which will enable Alaska to responsibly produce a range of needed minerals,” Sen. Murkowski said. “This decision will harm Alaska, including the Alaska Natives who support and will benefit from this project. Nor could it come at a worse time: how can the Biden administration possibly watch Russia leverage Europe on natural gas, and then decide to put the United States in the exact same position on minerals? We will hold the administration to an aggressive timeline for the completion of this analysis and expect them to allow as much work on the project as possible to continue, even as that occurs.”

“This filing is a continuation of the Biden administration’s self-destructive policies that target Alaska families and American workers while seriously undermining our national security,” Sen. Sullivan said. “As has been the case with many of this administration’s executive actions, the only winners are the far-left radical environmental groups that want to shut down all Alaska economic opportunities, and aggressive dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, both of whom can hardly believe their luck that the leader of the free world—their biggest adversary—continues to unilaterally disarm America in some of our nation's most important areas of strength: energy, natural resources and critical minerals.”

“Today's move by the Department of the Interior could not have come at a worse time. We are in the midst of a continued global supply chain crisis that has seriously constrained the availability of critical minerals. Frankly, we can and should be responsibly developing critical minerals here in Alaska instead of continuing to be reliant on adversarial nations and the whims of geopolitical faceoffs,” Congressman Young said. “At this very moment, Vladimir Putin and his cronies appear to have their sights set on invading Ukraine. Why, then, would President Biden reward Putin by hamstringing our economy and Alaskan mining operations by burying the proposed Ambler Road project under mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy? This is not just bad policy but also an affront to our national security. The Ambler project represents a tremendous opportunity for our state, and it has successfully undergone legally required environmental reviews, including an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). To require another EIS is a significant waste of both taxpayer dollars and employee resources.

“The Trump Administration was clear-eyed about our reliance on foreign adversaries for critical minerals, and I welcomed then-President Trump’s September 2020 Executive Order declaring a national emergency on mineral sourcing. This emergency is more serious than ever, and I could only imagine the outrage that Democrats would have, and deservedly so, if the Trump Administration took steps to weaken our economy and diminish our national security only to the benefit of nations that wish us ill. Instead, we hear silence. Secretary Haaland and I have a history of working together, and she pledged to keep an open mind about the unique issues facing our state. Her disappointing decision on Ambler Road represents more of the same tired attacks on Alaska that the Biden Administration has been carrying out for over a year. This move by President Biden and Secretary Haaland is dead wrong, harming not just Alaska, but the United States as a whole. I call on the Administration to stop emboldening our adversaries abroad by shutting down economic activity here at home.”

The Ambler Road would provide the access needed to responsibly develop a number of high-grade mineral deposits—including copper, cobalt, zinc, silver, gold, and other metals—in northwest Alaska. A right-of-way across federal land is guaranteed by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). These critical minerals are crucial to all aspects of modern technology and national security. The Ambler project is expected to provide more than 3,000 total jobs during construction and an estimated 1,800 total jobs during operation of the road and associated mines.

In addition to the Ambler Road filing, in just the last few days, the Democratic members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to make it much more difficult and onerous to build much-needed natural gas pipelines. Their action will make it more expensive to heat the homes of hundreds of millions of Americans, make America’s energy grid less reliable, and further empower America’s adversaries, like Vladimir Putin, who are rapidly building natural gas export pipelines to increase their leverage over countries in Asia and Europe.

On Monday, it was reported that DOI has decided to pause new federal oil and gas leases and permits on all federal lands—further undermining American energy independence. Worse still, DOI today announced an interagency working group focused on mining law reform, which threatens to make mineral development on federal lands even more costly and difficult, while doing nothing to address the core problem: our nation’s deep and growing foreign mineral dependence.


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