Murkowski Presses Biden Nominee Over Confounding Land Management & Resource Policies & Broken Statehood Promises
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped lead a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week where she pressed Laura Daniel-Davis, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, over the Biden administration’s harmful policies to Alaska implemented by the Department of the Interior.
“We want DOI to be our partner, not our landlord, but that relationship has taken turn after turn in the wrong direction in the year-plus this administration has been in office. We have seen action after action, and decision after decision, go against reasonable land access and resource production in Alaska—for oil and gas, for mining, for just about everything we have and want to responsibly produce—whether in the NPR-A, the 1002 Area, or many other areas. As a state that entered the Union with an agreement that resource production is how we would sustain ourselves and reach our potential, that is plain wrong. It is worse than a simple broken promise; that’s a broken statehood agreement,” said Senator Murkowski.
Senator Murkowski addressed the growing consequences of the Biden administration’s resource policies—from a rise in commodity prices to inflation.
“Our geopolitical leverage is down, which is what happens when ‘keep it in the ground’ prevails over the use of our energy as a strategic and diplomatic asset. Others are certainly happy to fill our void, that’s no surprise, but they can’t replace the United States as the world’s swing producer. Nor is there any excuse for an administration that decides to go to OPEC+ for more oil and gas, and to Canada and others for minerals, while leaving our best domestic projects stalled out.”
Acknowledging that we should take steps to advance clean and renewable technologies, Murkowski highlighted that can’t be paired with a fundamental incoherence on traditional energy and mining.
“An energy transition is underway, but it isn’t going to be an overnight shift. The country and the world are going to need our traditional resources for a long time to come. Meanwhile, demand for minerals – from projects like those that would be located in the Ambler Mining District – is only going up, and dramatically so,” said Murkowski. “We need an administration that recognizes those facts, and plans their policies accordingly. We should do everything we can to advance clean and renewable technologies, but that can’t be paired with a fundamental incoherence on traditional energy and mining. And so, our job is to make sure the Secretary of the Interior has a team that will facilitate the safe, responsible production of our domestic resources – including, and especially, in Alaska.”
Senator Murkowski highlighted responsible energy projects in Alaska that the administration should take immediate actions to increase our domestic energy supply. Murkowski worked to secure a commitment from Daniel-Davis to completing a Supplemental EIS for the Willow Project in a timely fashion, including by releasing the draft EIS this spring.
“I am pleased the administration is continuing to support the Willow Project, I have made it very clear to anyone who is willing to listen—from the President on down—that Willow is absolutely key when we think about Alaska’s production capacity going forward. I also recognize as we’re moving forward we’ve got very tight windows, and narrow construction windows,” said Murkowski. “I would like your commitment that the Department will finish a Supplemental EIS that addresses the court’s concerns by the end of the first quarter. I’m going to urge you, as I have others, that dragging this and extending too long results in real consequences on the ground. We don’t have 365 days a year to move forward with this project. I’m urging the Department to act as expediently and efficiently as possible.”
Senator Murkowski also asked Daniel-Davis about the Ambler Access Project, which is supported by a number of local Alaska Native communities including the Northwest Arctic Borough and NANA Regional Corporation. Despite a lengthy record of public meetings, hearings, consultations, a 90-day public comment period that was extended to a total of 330 days, and an FEIS/Joint Record of Decision that cost taxpayers nearly $5 million dollars to complete, the Department threw a wrench into the process by requesting a 60-day stay and then another 30-day stay to allow for additional consultation.