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Reconciliation Bill Breaks Native Trust, Undoes Arctic Economic Opportunity

Nov 16, 2021

In an op-ed published today in the Washington Examiner, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat President John Hopson Jr. shared a unified view reminding Congress of its obligations under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as members consider the proposed federal budget reconciliation bill.

Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat is a nonprofit corporation with 24 member groups on the Alaska North Slope that includes the Native Village of Kaktovik and Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation.

“A promise for economic freedom for the Native Village of Kaktovik was made by Congress under ANCSA through the formation of the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation,” the column states. “The first step in keeping that promise was finally fulfilled 46 years later through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

The Democrats’ $1.75 trillion, 2,135-page bill would break the federal trust with Alaska Natives by repealing the 2017 requirement for lease sales to be held in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and by revoking the leases purchased by the State of Alaska this past January.

The column points out that contrary to the Biden administration’s claims to recognize Tribal sovereignty, it is disregarding the opinions of the Alaska Native communities closest to the proposed development and denying them potentially billions in royalty revenue.

“The Native Village of Kaktovik, the only community inside the Coastal Plain, was actively involved in the process of developing the environmental impact statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The Biden Administration’s stated goal is ‘strengthening Tribal consultation,’ yet it tossed away this consultation with the only Tribe within the Coastal Plain because it doesn’t fit their narrative,” the column states.

The column also highlights how the bill damages America’s energy independence by discouraging U.S. oil production. Through the first eight months of 2021, average imports from Russia are at an all-time high of more than 22 million barrels per month, or 34 percent greater than last year.

“Not only are we enriching President Vladimir Putin and his cronies in the oil business, we are supporting their production from the very Arctic the Democrats are trying to lock up here in Alaska,” Dunleavy and Hopson Jr. point out. “Thirty percent of the oil production for state-owned Gazprom comes from Arctic fields and there are multiple exploration and development activities in the Russian Arctic both on and offshore that drivers are now financing at the pump thanks to Biden administration policies supported by his friends in Congress.”

 Read the full Op-Ed in the Washington Examiner.