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Native American group slams Biden admin’s move to limit new oil projects in Alaska


Daily Caller News Foundation

The Biden administration defended its recent restrictions on new Alaskan oil projects by saying the move would protect Native Americans, but the natives living in the region say they were largely ignored in the decision making process.

The Department of the Interior on Friday finalized a plan to restrict future oil leasing and development across 13 million acres in northern Alaska and to effectively block a road needed to access copper, gold and rare earth deposits in the region. President Joe Biden says the move was made with the interests of natives in mind, a claim the North Slope Iñupiat, natives living in the region, dispute.

Biden said that his administration was blocking new oil and gas projects “to honor the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on and stewarded these lands since time immemorial” and to sustain “a vibrant subsistence economy for Alaska Native communities” in a statement released shortly after the Department of the Interior finalized its plans.

The North Slope Iñupiat were not consulted by Biden administration officials before the rule was first announced in September 2023, according to a press release from Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, a group representing native communities in northern Alaska.

After the rule was proposed, local native leaders “made every effort to highlight the negative repercussions” but had eight meeting requests with the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
either denied or ignored, according to the press release.

The Biden administration’s new rule could negatively impact the local economy.

“Over 95% of the North Slope’s tax revenue is derived from taxation on resource development infrastructure,” and that revenue is used to fund essential services in the region, the press release points out.

“The DOI seems to believe that they care about this land more than we do,” said North Slope Borough Mayor Josiah Patkotak said, according to the press release.

Alaskan Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, the state’s sole representative in the House, agrees that the Biden administration didn’t give due regard to natives before moving forward with its new rule.

The Department of the Interior 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,” Peltola told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Alaska’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, have both criticized the Biden admin’s new rule as well. Murkowski said it could threaten energy security, while Sullivan pointed out that the administration allows the import of oil from hostile regimes.

The North Slope Borough, the area where the Iñupiat live and where Biden is restricting oil development, is 52.3% Native American, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates. Alaska’s population is 15.7% native, per the most recent estimates.

Nationally, natives only make up about 1.3% of the population, according to Census estimates.

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

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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