Alaskans Challenge Biden Administration's Cancellations of ANWR Leases

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File

In August of 2023, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued a ruling suspending leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Coastal Plain 1002 Area. Now a group of Alaskan organizations, including the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) and several other groups such as the North Slope Borough and the Kaktovik lnupiat Corporation, are appealing that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


The appeal challenges an August 2023 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason regarding the suspension and moratorium of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain 1002 Area oil and gas program mandated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

In that lawsuit, AIDEA said the lease termination violated a statute that directs the Interior Department to award leases covering at least 400,000 acres in ANWR. Gleason dismissed the lawsuit.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said of the decision, “The State of Alaska has long been at the forefront of fighting for our state rights and pushing back against federal overreach. The federal government‘s actions regarding the ANWR leases not only undermine our state’s autonomy but also hinder our ability to harness our rich natural resources for the betterment of all Alaskans which was guaranteed in the 2017 Tax Act. This appeal is crucial in our ongoing efforts to assert Alaska’s rights and potential.”

Previously on RedState: Biden Admin Locking Down HALF of Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve From Energy Development

Judge Sharon Gleason is an Obama appointee.

On this issue, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) also weighed in and, much like the proverbial blind squirrel, found an acorn:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was the lead author of the section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that mandated the lease program and at least two lease sales by the end of this year. She said the Department of the Interior’s recent actions violate the law. 

“My team and I invested countless hours in crafting this legislation, ensuring it balanced economic development with environmental stewardship. lt’s crucial that the clear intent and plain direction of this law, to responsibly harness the energy potential of the 1002 Area for the benefit of Alaskans and the nation, are fully realized,” she said.


Alaska's sole Representative, Democrat Mary Peltola, has not released any statement on this case as of this writing.

When it comes to government overreach in the energy sector, it's hard to overstate how much damage the Biden administration is doing. Not only have they locked down half of the National Petroleum Reserve, but the rise in fuel prices resulting (inevitably) from their actions hit them where it hurts, in the polls, and so instead of re-thinking domestic energy policies, they drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve - and are now toying with the idea of tapping the dregs.

See Related: Biden's Latest Strategic Petroleum Reserve Failure Shows Just How Bad His Policies Are Versus Trump's

It's also ironic how national Democrats, be they in Congress, the executive branch, or the courts, loudly proclaim their support for "people of color" until those people are Alaskan natives who want good-paying oil field jobs. To that end, Charles Lampe, President of Kaktovik lnupiat Corporation, had this to say about the appeal:

“Kaktovik is the only village within the project area. Our involvement in this appeal is about protecting the rights and future of our people. The decisions made by the Department of Interior have significant implications for our community, and it’s essential that our voices are heard in this matter.”

The rights Mr. Lampe speaks of, of course, are the jobs that oil and gas development in the North Slope provides.


The North Slope is a place of unimaginably vast scale. The areas open for oil and gas development are a tiny percentage of the whole. Hamstringing national energy policy and impoverishing Alaskans to preserve a tiny portion of this vast tundral plain makes no sense. 

Hopefully the Ninth Circuit will see it that way, and rule in favor of Alaskan jobs.


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