The Biden administration dealt a blow to the Alaskan economy this week when it canceled several oil and gas leases that were issued two year ago.
According to Fox News, the decision concerns leases in 13 million acres of land in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR), an area of northern Alaska that Congress has designated for resource development.
Also at issue are leases covering an area of 2.8 million acres off the northeast coast of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea. Both sets of leases belong to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA).
Fox News noted how Interior Secretary Deb Haaland justified the decision in a statement on Wednesday that cited concerns over climate change.
"With climate change warming the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, we must do everything within our control to meet the highest standards of care to protect this fragile ecosystem," the secretary was quoted as saying.
"President Biden is delivering on the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in history," the White House official insisted.
"The steps we are taking today further that commitment, based on the best available science and in recognition of the Indigenous Knowledge of the original stewards of this area, to safeguard our public lands for future generations," she stressed.
However, AIDEA Executive Director Randy Ruaro provided a statement of his own to Fox News, complaining, "This latest action by the Department of the Interior against Alaska and Native Alaskans living inside ANWR (Alaska National Wildlife Refuge) shows arbitrary disregard for federal law, based on campaign trail rhetoric."
"Campaign promises are not enough to justify this agency action. Under the law, Interior must present real facts and reasons that support this reversal in position," Ruaro pointed out.
"Interior’s action leaves AIDEA one choice, we have to go to court to protect our rights in the ANWR leases," he continued.
"This time, we will ask the court to allow us to conduct discovery that could include taking the deposition of Biden’s messenger, [Interior] Secretary [Deb] Haaland, and possibly other administration officials involved, so the real motives are made public."
This week's decision was met with outrage from Republicans, including Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, who denounced it in a statement provided to Fox News.
"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," Sullivan complained.
"This war on Alaska is devastating for not only Alaska but also the energy security of the nation," the lawmaker went on to declare.
"This unlawful cancelation of AIDEA’s ANWR leases today now brings us to 55 executive orders and actions specifically targeting Alaska since President Biden assumed office," he added.