Rick Whitbeck: Secretary Deb Haaland and the Interior attack rural America



It’s been 20 long months since Joe Biden was sworn in and directly targeted the US energy industry.

Despite all of his documented failures as president, Biden has delivered on his promise to fulfill a green agenda, starting with his first day in office, as he used executive orders to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and halt development in the area. 10-02 from the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

No one on the Biden team has done a better job of following the eco-left’s green playbook than Interior Sec. Deb Haaland, who has used her position to push for economic, cultural and racial justice as cornerstones of her department’s mission. She traveled across the country as part of her role, ostensibly to learn about the balance between public land and economic opportunity.

However, a review of its actions shows a clear imbalance, heavily skewed towards environmental blockages rather than economic opportunity for the people and communities who need those jobs the most.

Earlier this year, Haaland traveled to Minnesota, where she stayed in the Twin Cities (barely the “public lands” the interior focuses on), drawing the ire of Republicans. Representative Pete Stauber. Haaland could have traveled to northeast Minnesota and the Twin Metals nickel mining project for which she had issued an executive order blocking development months earlier, but she chose not to.

Haaland has not intervened in cases brought by environmentalists to end coal mining leases on federal lands and to prevent Nevada and California-based lithium mining opportunities from going ahead. before, even as America grapples with supply chain dependence on communist China, Russia and the African warlord. – controlled mines for the critical and strategic minerals necessary for the “green” revolution desired by the environmental lobby.

She has even stifled development opportunities in her home state of New Mexico, whose economic prospects are stark. 38th in the country. The Navajo Nation, the indigenous people closest to the Chaco Canyon in the northwest part of the state, lambasted Haaland and the Biden administration for ignoring tribal consultation demands and further ignoring the Navajo’s desire to have a smaller buffer zone (5 miles) around the Canyon. ; one that would allow the Navajo to continue its oil and gas development projects in the area, rather than being closed off by the proposed larger 10-mile area of ​​the Interior.

But nowhere did Haaland target our state of Alaska, where the interior controls nearly 63% of our land area through public lands, national parks, forests and wildlife areas.

Haaland and the Home Office acted as nothing less than attack dogs against development opportunities. She celebrated the cancellation of ANWR Area 10-02 development, even though the local indigenous people – the Inupiat of Kaktovik, located within ANWR’s borders – are overwhelmingly supportive of the project, as they saw how nearby Prudhoe Bay benefited villages on the North Slope of Alaska.

When a federal judge rejected an approved development plan for ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in July 2021, it took nearly a year and constant pressure from Alaskan business, political and congressional leaders for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to release a plan for reconsideration of the project. The delay, overseen by Haaland and the Bureau of Land Management, could set the project back for years. With global energy supplies limited, the 180,000 barrel per day project would be welcomed by consumers.

Even after visiting our state and professing a desire to listen to those closest to the projects over which the Interior has influence and control, the hits kept coming.

Subsequent decisions included reducing nearly 50% of land available for development in NPR-A from a plan approved by the previous administration, canceling a required Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale by regulation, as well as a pause and subsequent requirement to reconsider obligations to build an access road to the Ambler mining district in northwest Alaska, an area rich in the same critical and strategic minerals previously noted as almost entirely imported from less than friendly sources.

Deb Haaland and her bias against traditional energy have been devastating for rural America, including many areas considered economically and racially disadvantaged. If she truly cared about her stated mission to provide opportunity to the poorest parts of the country, she would stop the assaults, focus on the balance between environmental stewardship and responsible development, and encourage – not block – projects and perspectives that could bring tens of thousands of people. from traditional energy jobs to rural America.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit that champions American energy jobs.


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