Sen. Dan Sullivan: President Joe Biden ‘Doesn’t Have the Authority’ to Limit Gas and Oil Leasing in Alaska

According to GOP Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, President Joe Biden “doesn’t have the authority” to restrict new gas and oil leasing on federal petroleum reserves in Alaska, said in response to the Democratic administration’s environmental protection plan. 

“Leaders of the North Slope of Alaska were unanimous in opposition to this,” said Sullivan Sunday, adding that Joe Biden wasn’t being honest about the wants of Alaska Native communities regarding the new gas and oil leasing rule. Comments by Sullivan come days following the Biden administration’s finalized rule Friday to freeze new fossil fuel leases on almost half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

In a statement released Friday, the president boasted of the restrictions and said he is “proud that my Administration is taking action to conserve over 13 million acres in the Western Arctic and to honor the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on and stewarded these lands since time immemorial.”

The reserve is comprised of over 23 million acres of public land and was designated in the 1920s as an underground emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. It has also become the location of the ConocoPhillips-owned Willow project, an oil drilling venture that has angered environmental activists. 

“As I say, [it’s] national security suicide,” said Sullivan, CBS News’s Face the Nation Sunday, and called it “a lie” for the administration to claim Alaska’s indigenous population wanted the new rule that is anti-drilling.

“It is a lie. Go see what the indigenous people of Alaska from my part of the state said,” said Sullivan and added, “It’s lawless, and he doesn’t have the authority to do it.”

On Friday, Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat President Nagruk Harcharek said Biden’s final rule “does not reflect our communities’ wishes.” Harcharek said the decision banning drilling will “hurt the very residents the federal government purports to help by rolling back years of progress, impoverishing our communities, and imperiling or Iñupiaq culture.”

Administration moved to roll back Ambler Road construction approved by Trump

Additionally, on Friday, the Biden administration moved to roll back an Ambler Road construction in the Alaskan wilderness, which the Trump administration approved.

The road would create an access point for a proposed zinc and copper mine if built. Biden’s Interior Department claimed it wanted “no action” taken on the mine, effectively blocking the road’s access to federal land.

Interior Senator Deb Haaland, who, as the first Native American, made history to serve as Cabinet secretary, said the Biden administration’s Alaska conservation plan would “underscore our commitment to ensure that places too special to develop remain intact for the communities and species that rely on them.”

However, Sullivan said Alaskan Natives “tried to meet with Secretary Haaland, and she wouldn’t meet with them, adding, “They’re very upset.”

“And the president was canceling their voices and now stealing their voices, it was really a despicable move,” said Sullivan.