In an oil-rich part of Alaska, President Biden’s administration has taken measures that have drawn criticism for severely restricting fossil fuel development. The National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) is a region in North Slope Borough, Alaska, home to 13 million acres of land that need to be protected as much as possible; thus, the Department of the Interior (DOI) developed laws to do just that.
In addition, Biden ordered an additional 2.8 million acres in the Beaufort Sea off the northern shore of Alaska to be removed from oil and gas leasing. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) had seven leases from 2021 that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has approved canceling. Leases covering 365,775 acres outside the wilderness areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) were acquired in January 2021.
Republicans and Democrats have voiced concern that this could undermine U.S. efforts to ensure a reliable supply of energy and might end up rewarding foreign energy suppliers without their knowledge or consent. The idea has been criticized because it would undermine U.S. energy security, unfairly benefit foreign energy providers, and go against the will of Congress. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that the administration was voluntarily increasing its reliance on foreign oil imports, which would lead to the loss of high-paying American jobs and a nationwide increase in the price of electricity and gasoline.
Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso stated, “President Biden’s attack on American energy continues.” He criticized Biden, saying that Biden defied the law and made us more reliant on foreign oil. This is a poor energy strategy and an unwise diplomatic move. The choice made today will benefit our enemies and harm American families.
According to Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines, these actions are part of Biden’s “war on American energy to achieve its green fantasy.” He argued that it was disrespectful to the law and the Native American groups who stood to gain from growth in the area.
The Department of the Interior was mandated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to set up and manage an oil and gas program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In January 2021, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final leasing program for hundreds of thousands of acres of fossil fuel leases in ANWR and conducted a lease auction. After the DOI froze leasing in ANWR in June 2021, AIDEA, Kaktovik Iupiat Corp., North Slope Borough, and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. filed suit against the Biden administration.