Biden Admin Locking Down HALF of Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve From Energy Development

AP Photo/Judy Patrick, File

Just when you thought they couldn't do anything more to make sure energy costs keep rising, we learn now that the Biden administration's Bureau of Land Management plans to lock down half - half of Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve.

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The 23 million-acre petroleum reserve on the North Slope was set aside as an emergency oil supply, originally for the U.S. Navy, by President Warren Harding.

In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, administration of the reserve was transferred to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and renamed the NPR-A.

President Joe Biden is on the verge of locking down half of it, making it unavailable for oil and gas development. He intends to do so with a new rule that is proposed by the Biden Administration through the Bureau of Land Management, a division of the Department of Interior. The pubic [sic] comment period has ended, and the rule will be finalized soon.

Rep. Mary Peltola endorses Biden’s reelection and has had no apparent willingness or ability to reverse the impending economic damage to Alaska.

Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), it should be noted, faces two Republican challengers in November, thanks to the vagaries of Alaska's ranked-choice voting system (a repeal of which is also on the ballot this year). Peltola's voting record is mixed; Alaska Public Media names her one of the "least loyal" Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, while noting that she votes with fellow Democrats in 88 percent of the votes taken during her term.

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In this case, though, the onus for this action is on the Executive branch.


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This move by the Biden administration will have a chilling effect on oil companies' plans for investment in the North Slope, where they are a major source of jobs in that remote region. 

“ConocoPhillips, which has 156 leases in the reserve, warned the regulation would violate its contracts and “drive investment away from the NPR-A.” And Armstrong Oil & Gas Inc., whose leases there span 1.1 million gross acres, said the measure could block it from building the infrastructure needed to access those tracts,” Bloomberg said.

The new regulation would limit future oil development in some 13 million acres (20,000 square miles) of designated “special areas,” including territory currently under lease. Some 10.6 million acres would be completely locked down. 

But wait, there’s more: “The proposal would create a formal program for expanding protected areas at least once every five years — while making it difficult to undo those designations. And it would raise the bar for future development elsewhere in the reserve,” Bloomberg reported in a story that is behind its paywall.

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Oil and gas exploration projects take years, sometimes decades, to explore and develop before extraction can begin, and Alaska's North Slope presents conditions that make this even more difficult. Closing half of an area originally set aside for such development doesn't make any sense; even if a future administration opens the Reserve back up for exploration, the oil companies may well be hesitant; all it would take is another liberal Democrat President and the Reserve is closed again. Understandably, petroleum companies would be hesitant to start exploration under these conditions.

This action, of course, is almost certain to cause another rise in energy prices, and with that, a rise in the cost of everything else. The Biden administration is consistent in this, at least; they have, since January of 2021, done everything they can to make life for ordinary Americans more expensive.

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