Delegation Slams Biden Decisions to Further Restrict, Deny Resource Development in Alaska

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) and Representative Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) today slammed President Biden and his administration for making two more major adversarial decisions—on top of dozens of others over the past three years—that will prevent responsible resource development in Alaska.

Earlier today, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Ambler Access Project (AAP), selecting the “no action” alternative to deny the project’s re-approval. Federal law provides for the AAP—which was previously approved in 2020—to provide access to the Ambler Mining District, state-owned lands with significant deposits of copper, cobalt, gallium, germanium, and other critical minerals that are crucial to the U.S. economy and national security.

DOI also finalized its “Proposed Rule for Management and Protection of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).” The final rule prohibits leasing and infrastructure development on millions of acres of the petroleum reserve and threatens access to millions more. This is again contrary to federal law, which requires an expeditious program of leasing and development. 

“The Biden administration may be focused on short-term political gains, but at the expense of Alaska’s long-term future, limiting jobs for Alaskans, revenues for our state, and the future energy and mineral security of our nation,” Senator Murkowski said. “Once again, the President and his team are making unjustifiable decisions that hurt us while allowing some of the worst regimes in the world—in nations like Iran and Russia—to stay in power, enrich themselves from resource production, and then use those revenues to finance terror and war. At this point, the Biden administration is undermining the rule of law, ignoring the voices of Alaska Natives, and punishing Alaska despite our strong environmental record. I will work with Dan and Mary to overturn these decisions any way we can—whether in Congress, the courts, or the next administration.”

“The Biden administration sanctions Alaskans, while terrorists in Iran and communists in China get off scot-free and are strengthened. It's no wonder, with such anti-American policies, that authoritarian regimes in Russia, China and Iran are on the march,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Biden administration is deliberately undertaking policies to punish Americans and undermine our strengths while continuing to help our adversaries. Shutting down two of the world's most important energy and critical mineral developments in our country sends this message to the dictators in Iran, China and Russia: We won't use our resources to strengthen America, but we’ll become more dependent on yours. In their statements, both President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland say they’re taking such actions after extensive consultation and to ‘[safeguard] the way of life’ for Alaska Natives. These statements are flat out lies. This decision goes against the strong opposition of the elected Alaska Native leaders from the North Slope Borough region—whose voices throughout this process have been canceled. In fact, the elected Indigenous leaders from the North Slope of Alaska have flown 4,000 miles to D.C. eight times, requesting a meeting with Interior Secretary Haaland to express their vehement opposition to the administration’s new NPR-A rule. Each time, they were denied a meeting. The truth of what’s going on here is that Joe Biden is listening to and taking direction from far-left Lower 48 eco-colonialists who don’t give a damn about the Indigenous people of the North Slope of Alaska and who Joe Biden believes he needs for his reelection. Like the dictators in Moscow, Tehran and Beijing, these eco-colonialists are overjoyed about this decision, while the Alaska Native people who’ve lived in the North Slope region for thousands of years are despondent, discouraged and deeply offended.”

“Closing off NPR-A is a huge step back for Alaska, failing to strike a balance between the need for gap oil and natural gas and legitimate environmental concerns, and steamrolling the voices of many Alaska Natives in the decision-making process,” said Representative Peltola. “The Ambler Road decision is premature, as real conversations among stakeholders in the region are ongoing. Alaska has a wealth of natural resources that can be responsibly developed to help boost domestic manufacturing and innovation—in the end, it should be up to Alaskans to decide what they want developed in their regions.”


Ambler Access Project: The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980 guarantees a right-of-way (ROW) across federal lands to provide road access to the Ambler Mining District. Federal permitting for the AAP began in 2015—during the Obama administration—and included a rigorous environmental and economic analysis (EEA). After holding 18 public meetings and considering over 3,000 unique public comments, in July 2020, the Secretaries of the Interior and Transportation signed a joint Record of Decision (ROD) selecting the Northern Alignment as the approved route for the road. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service later issued a 50-year ROW permit for the AAP.

In February 2022, DOI sought a voluntary court remand to conduct an SEIS for the AAP. The very same day, President Biden held a roundtable on “Securing Critical Minerals for a Future Made in America”—failing to recognize the Ambler Mining District is one of the nation’s best options to produce them, but foreshadowing his administration’s incoherence on this issue.

The court agreed to DOI’s narrow remand request in May 2022, but placed conditions on it to ensure it would move forward expeditiously.

The Alaska Delegation has repeatedly urged DOI to re-approve the AAP, including through a letter sent in December 2023. As explained in that letter, the AAP would provide access known deposits of copper, cobalt, gallium, germanium, and other needed minerals.

Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve: Congress set the NPR-A aside in 1923 for oil and gas development. In 1980, Congress amended the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to “conduct an expeditious program of competitive leasing” in the area. During the Obama-Biden administration, companies were encouraged to develop in the petroleum reserve, as opposed to other parts of Alaska.

On September 8, 2023, DOI proposed to cut off access to millions of acres within the NPR-A, by suddenly and dramatically reinterpreting the law so that it can treat 13.1 million acres of Special Areas in the NPR-A as de facto federal wilderness.

In October 2023, the Alaska Delegation requested an 80-day extension to the comment deadline for BLM’s proposed rule, citing DOI’s lack of meaningful consultation with communities and stakeholders on the North Slope. The Delegation sent another letter shortly thereafter, outlining deficiencies in the SEIS, and another in April 2024, again urging DOI to withdraw its misguided and unlawful rule.

While taking dramatic steps to limit resource development in Alaska, the Biden administration has relaxed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and failed to enforce an international price cap on Russian oil—allowing all three regimes to enrich themselves.

The Indigenous elected leaders of Alaska’s North Slope published statements today expressing their outrage at the Biden administration’s decision to advance its September 2023 Proposed NPR-A Rule.