Alaska State Agency Takes Aim at Biden Admin Over Canceled Leases

Alaska Takes Aim at Biden Admin Over Canceled Leases

( – In January 2021, the Trump Administration approved oil and drilling leases in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge. Weeks later, he left office and President Joe Biden’s administration came in with a healthy slew of green energy and climate control goals. To that end, the US Interior Department canceled the formerly approved leases in September 2023. Now, the state is suing and asking a federal court to reverse the decision.

On Wednesday, October 18, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), a state agency that held the oil and drilling leases, filed a lawsuit in federal court. It claims that the Biden Administration is violating a congressional mandate passed in 2017 which opened up the region to drilling. The Interior Department maintains that the area is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the animals that call the Arctic home — polar bears, caribou, snowy owls, and grizzly bears — would be at significant risk.

Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy is in favor of the lawsuit, accusing the federal government of trying “to strip away Alaska’s ability to support itself,” per Newsmax. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan reportedly criticized the administration’s “insane energy policies” and accused Biden of “empowering and funding America’s adversaries.”

In 2020, the sale of the leases generated approximately $14.4 million, a significant amount less than the $1.8 billion the Congressional Budget Office predicted in its 2019 report. When gas and oil companies bowed out of the bidding, likely due to the lack of infrastructure that would make executing the leases efficient amid other factors, the AIDEA emerged as the sole purchaser.

When the Interior Department withdrew the leases in September, they did so claiming that the leases offered by the Trump Administration were “seriously flawed” and didn’t take into consideration the effects they would have on climate change.

The AIDEA is asking the court to reverse the decision and to order the Biden Administration to continue with the leasing and development in the region.

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