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SUZANNE DOWNING: Oil For Me, But Not For Thee?

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Suzanne Downing Contributor
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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has been an ardent opponent of oil drilling everywhere in America, with the exception of her home state of New Mexico.

Recently, featured prominently in the news, she vehemently opposed Alaska’s Willow Project, a proposed diminutive oil development project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, for years. It’s a project she opposed even when she served in Congress as a representative from New Mexico.

The Biden Administration ultimately this month decided to allow the project to proceed, as the administration was unlikely to win the case in court, according to President Joe Biden, who admitted it during a press conference in Canada late last month.

The go-ahead for Willow was made with the understanding that the administration would gain “one hell of a tradeoff” by locking up tens of millions of acres of federal land in Alaska from future oil drilling. In other words, Alaska, don’t come back to this administration for any other permits. (RELATED: SUZANNE DOWNING: We’ve Entered An Era When The US Gov’t Won’t Even Take Its Own Money)

On decision day, Haaland declined to sign off on the Willow master development plan, which had been reduced by her department to just three drilling pads from the original five. Instead, Deputy Secretary of Interior Tommy Beaudreau pulled the short straw and signed the decision on her behalf. That is how deep Haaland’s hatred of this project goes: She cannot even bring herself to pick up a pen on its behalf.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, (R-Alaska) points out the hypocrisy of Secretary Haaland’s approach to Alaska’s economy, particularly in light of her apparent lack of concern for the impact of increasing oil production in her home state of New Mexico.

When it comes to carbon bombs, New Mexico is clearly the bomb. But apparently Alaska carbon is special and it must be stopped. Carbon from New Mexico? That’s different.

During recent remarks in the Senate, Sen. Sullivan featured facts that are often overlooked by the mainstream media: New Mexico’s Permian Basin received more than half of the federal permits to drill on federal land by the Biden Administration in the first two years of his term. This is more lease permits than North Dakota, Texas, Alaska, Oklahoma, or Colorado. As a result, New Mexico has now become the second-largest oil-producing state in the country, only behind Texas and outpacing North Dakota.

While New Mexico has benefited from Secretary Haaland’s approach to energy policy, her approach to Alaska’s oil and gas prospects have negative consequences for the 49th State’s economy.

New Mexico’s rise as an oil-dominant economy has gone unacknowledged, because the mainstream media has chosen to give Haaland a pass on her hypocrisy. New Mexico now produces more than 10% of the national output of oil and has more than doubled its volume since 2018. New Mexico produces 1.7 million barrels a day of oil, compared to Alaska, which produces under 500,000, Sullivan points out.

Biden all but admitted he’s bullish on oil for New Mexico. At a rally in Albuquerque in November, he said, “I know we have a lot of leases out here in New Mexico for oil companies. And we haven’t slowed them down at all. They should be drilling more than they’re doing now. If they were drilling more, we’d have more — more relief at the pump.” Then he blamed oil companies for not producing enough: “But the oil industry hasn’t met their commitment to invest in America and support the American people.”

He revealed the pro-New Mexico bias to insiders at a Democratic rally, where he used U.S. taxpayer dollars to promote Democrat candidates, including New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham’s reelection.

Sen. Sullivan, who raised the matter of the hypocrisy of New Mexico lawmakers opposing Alaska’s main industry, called New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich a hypocrite for feathering the nest of his own home state and opposing development in Alaska’s rich oil patch.

Heinrich said that Alaska is one of the last great wild places on earth. You don’t want to mess with beauty, he indicated, which is another way of saying his state sucks in that department.

The Biden Administration must believe that carbon from New Mexico oil is different than carbon from carbon resulting from Alaska oil.

Or perhaps Haaland, Heinrich, and Biden are just stating the obvious: Oil for the blue-voting Land of Enchantment, but not for thee, oh, red Alaska.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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