Senate Western Caucus Slams Biden Administration’s Reckless Policy to Shutter Alaska Oil and Gas Drilling

September 6, 2023

Washington, D.C.— Today, Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) alongside Vice Chair Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released the following statement after the Biden administration announced it would cancel oil and gas drilling leases in the arctic, cutting off key access to domestic oil production that our nation needs at a time of record-high gas prices.

“This administration has repeatedly shut off access to public lands for industries the west relies on and the latest attempt to eliminate oil and gas drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a direct attack on our domestic energy industry,” said Sen. Lummis. “These oil and gas leases would have provided a wonderful opportunity to increase our domestic oil and gas production which is among the cleanest energy in the world. Not only will this cause our nation to continue relying on dirty oil from foreign adversaries, it will also keep prices high at the pump which the American people cannot afford.”

“Having just spent more than a month home in communities across our state, there is palpable anger and frustration among Alaskans about the Biden administration’s unrelenting assault on our economy and our ability to lawfully access our lands. This war on Alaska is devastating for not only Alaska but also the energy security of the nation. This unlawful cancellation of AIDEA’s ANWR leases today now brings us to 55 executive orders and actions specifically targeting Alaska since President Biden assumed office,” said Sen. Sullivan. “The Biden Interior Department’s incredulous announcement of a second ANWR lease sale begs the question: What investor in their right mind would ever consider spending millions of dollars in ANWR having just witnessed the administration pull the rug out from under the last standing lessee from the previous sale? Unfortunately, that seems to be the point. The administration is putting on a legal charade by pretending to follow the law that requires them to hold lease sales with no intent of ever actually honoring those leases– daring any investor to waste their time and money. Not only is this an affront to the rule of law, it’s also a grave injustice to the Inupiat people of the North Slope, especially the people of Kaktovik—the only village in ANWR. As evidenced by this and so many of the administration’s actions negatively impacting the Alaska Native people, the idea of ‘equity’ is being exploited as a hollow political soundbite.”

“The NPR-A, which is explicitly designated for energy production, turns 100 this year, and we have worked for decades how to responsibly develop a very small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 Area. Now the Biden Administration, at a time when America and our allies need Alaska’s resources more than ever, has decided to go their own way by further locking Alaska down while refusing to consult with the Alaska Natives who actually live on the North Slope. It’s bad enough to tear up legal contracts and renege on federal commitments. But it’s even more unconscionable that the Biden administration is penalizing Alaska right as it allows Iran to produce more of its oil and solicits the same from Venezuela. It’s not hard to predict what will happen as they allow the world’s worst actors to enrich themselves, while punishing Alaska. Fewer jobs at home, more imports for California, and higher prices for everyone. These decisions are illegal, reckless, defy all common sense, and are the latest signs of an incoherent energy policy from President Biden,” said Sen. Murkowski.

The Biden administration announced it would cancel seven oil and gas leases issued by the Trump administration in the Coastal Plain. It also proposed new regulations for 13 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska.