Murkowski Critical of Biden Administration for Creating Project Uncertainty

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today raised concerns with the Biden administration’s recent decision to continue a review process that requires some Department of the Interior (DOI) agencies to funnel decisions through the very top levels of the agency. Interior's principal deputy assistant secretary Laura Daniel-Davis issued a memo directing all agencies that handle energy and land management decisions, including responsible resource extraction, to go through her office for approval. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) were notified that the agencies cannot proceed on a wide variety of actions without approval from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM).

“This decision is undoubtedly going to create a bottleneck of projects within the Interior Department with a far reaching impact. I’m concerned this will only cause further delays, create uncertainty, and seems to be consistent with this Administration’s effort to derail critical projects,” Senator Murkowski said. “In Alaska, a few months delay in permits could translate to missing out on an entire year of project activity and work. From the Willow Project to the Ambler Mining District—it is imperative to Alaska’s future that these types of projects stay on track. ASLM’s directive goes against commitments Secretary Haaland made in her confirmation hearing to rely on the expertise of career staff and to let the science drive decisions. Many of the items specifically mentioned are routine permit extensions that used to be approved at local field offices. It makes no sense that these routine functions of the department must now be double-checked and approved by political appointees in D.C.. This directive, undercuts the authority of career employees and injects politics into every facet of the oil, gas, and mineral extraction responsibilities of the department.”