June 1, 2021 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a statement on today’s announcement by the Biden Administration to unilaterally suspend oil and gas leases in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) which were thoroughly surveyed for environmental impact and authorized by the United States Congress and the Trump Administration.
“The Biden Administration’s suspension of leases in the ANWR 1002 Area is contrary to federal law. Section 20001 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) clearly says ‘The Secretary shall establish and administer a competitive oil and gas program for the leasing, development, production and transportation of oil and gas in and from the Coastal Plain.’ Neither the President nor the Secretary are given the discretion to decide otherwise. Our leases for oil and gas are valid and cannot be taken away by the federal government,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I oppose this assault on Alaska’s economy and will use every means necessary to undo this egregious federal overreach. Alaska does responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic under stricter environmental standards than anywhere else in the world. Yet the federal government is focused on trying to stop our ability to produce oil and gas. Each action they take demonstrates a failure to comprehend the worldwide demand for oil and gas. If Alaska continues to be denied its constitutional right to safely develop resources, countries with much lower environmental standards will gladly fill that void with significant environmental impacts. Shutting down our lands was not what William Seward intended when Alaska was founded and we are not going to allow the Biden administration to turn Alaska into a giant national park.”
The historic ANWR 1002 lease sale was held on January 6, 2021 and attracted nearly $15 million in bids. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) successfully bid on nine tracts and signed seven leases with the Bureau of Land Management providing exclusive rights to explore for reserves on over 365,000 acres.
“For decades, Alaska has proven that energy development and environmental conservation can proactively co-exist,” said AIDEA Executive Director, Alan Weitzner. “The Department of Interior has yet to provide AIDEA with documentation of any deficiencies that would warrant a suspension of leases. We’re extremely disappointed in the Biden Administration’s effort to prevent Alaska from lawfully and responsibly developing its natural resources as agreed and provided for under ANILCA.”
ANWR covers 19.3 million acres of northeast Alaska. Area 1002 on the North Slope encompasses 1.56 million acres of that land specifically set aside for oil and natural resource development by Congress and President Carter in 1980. For more than 40 years, Alaskans have asked Congress to consider opening Area 1002 for exploration. In December 2017, passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included authorization for responsible development in this area. On December 7, 2020, the BLM posted the Statement of Sale, which allowed for the submission of qualifying bids through December 31, 2020. President Biden signed an executive order halting ANWR oil and gas activities on January 20, 2021.