‘Huge Step Back’: Dem Rep Slams Biden Admin For Climate Decision Strangling Oil Industry

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Biden administration just announced sweeping moves to limit fossil fuel development in energy-rich Alaska, and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola isn’t happy about it.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) on Friday approved a rule restricting new oil and gas leasing across 13 million acres of federal land in northern Alaska and effectively blocking a road crucial to a large mining project. “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,” Peltola, the sole person representing Alaska in the House of Representatives, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Peltola called the Biden administration’s decision “a huge step back.”

President Joe Biden cited preserving “Alaska’s majestic and rugged lands and waters” and “sustaining a vibrant subsistence economy for Alaska Native communities” as part of his rationale for the move to restrict drilling in a statement released Friday. (RELATED: Biden Admin Hands Out $500 Million For Oil Drilling In Middle East)

However, Peltola says the Biden administration failed to properly consult Indian tribes before its move to block new oil development across millions of acres in the state.

The administration failed “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,” according to Peltola.

Oil and gas makes up the largest component of the Alaskan economy, with roughly 85% of Alaska’s revenue coming from oil revenues, according to the state.

DOI’s rule also blocked off the entirety of the U.S. Arctic Ocean, as well as nearly 3 million acres of other federal waters off the coast of Alaska, from new oil and gas leasing, according to Politico. Additionally, the department effectively shot down a previously approved access road intended to give a mining company access to potentially billions of dollars’ worth of copper.

DELTA JUNCTION, ALASKA - MAY 05: A view of a boreal forest trees in front of Alaska Range mountains during the snowmelt season on May 5, 2023 near Delta Junction, Alaska. The NASA SnowEx campaign is currently studying snow albedo (reflectivity) in sections of Interior Alaska boreal forest during the melt season. Seasonal snowmelt provides a crucial water supply to more than one billion people worldwide and is the primary source of water in western North America, according to the University of Colorado Boulder. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the boreal forest covers 17 million square kilometers in the Northern Hemisphere, making up about one-third of the planet’s total forest area. NASA's campaign is testing remote sensing technologies in diverse snowpack environments to prepare NASA for future satellite missions which will monitor the amount of water held in snowpacks worldwide amid a changing climate. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A view of a boreal forest in front of the Alaska Range mountains (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Other elected officials representing Alaska have also slammed the decision.

“The real irony is, as you know, right now, as opposed to sanctioning Iran or Venezuela with regard to oil, this administration is getting ready to sanction Alaska,” Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said a few days before the final rule was approved.

The Biden administration lifted U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan oil in October, though recently reinstated them after the socialist state failed to hold fair elections.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski also criticized the Biden administration’s move, according to Politico.

“When you take off access to our resources … when you say you cannot drill, you cannot produce, you cannot explore, you cannot move it, this is the energy insecurity we’re talking about,” she said.

Earlier in his term, Biden cancelled millions more acres’ worth of offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, The Associated Press reported.

Biden’s approach to energy hasn’t been popular with everyone on his side of the aisle.

Democrats in the House and Senate came out in opposition to the president after he announced intent to stop approvals for new liquefied natural gas exports, for instance.

The Department of the Interior did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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