Joe Biden’s war on fossil fuels has taken perhaps its heaviest toll on the 49th State. roughly half Alaska’s economy, and quarter its jobs. There would be lots more oil and gas jobs in Alaska but for Joe Biden, who unilaterally suspended all oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that President Trump had earlier approved. This action is now being challenged in court.
The ANWR suspensions were brought about by the weak defense of ConocoPhillips Willow Master Development Plan .. After the Alaska federal court had ruled against the largest oil-and-gas drilling project in Alaska, the Biden Justice department decided not to defend the project.
Adding insult to injury, just as he did by vacating sanctions that had blocked construction by Russia of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, President Joe opted to abandon the Arctic and the people of Alaska. He opened the door to Russia becoming an oil and gas producer, opening up a wider market. Lest anyone forget, the Nord Stream deal was announced weeks after Biden killed the Keystone Pipeline, also by Executive Order.
Thanks to Biden policies, Russia has become America’s No. Russia is now America’s No. 2 oil supplier. Russia has more than doubled its oil exports to the U.S. in the time since Biden was elected; Russian oil now contributes twice as much to U.S. oil consumption. While Alaska’s oil and gas production has fallen by 75 percent since 1988, seriously impacting state revenues, Biden has enabled Putin’s Russia to gain U.S. market share equal to Alaska’s entire current output.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has sued President Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. They claim that their actions to obstruct and derail the development of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s non-wilderness Coastal Plain are illegal.
In the 32-page filing, before the U.S. District Court for Alaska, the plaintiff explained that AIDEA had won the right to bid on leases to pursue drilling in ANWR when a federal judge denied any injunctive efforts to stop the oil and gas sale.
Joe Biden ignored this order and placed a “temporary moratorium” on ANWR development on his first day in office. In June, he followed up by suspending exploration and development of those leases. He claimed that there were legal issues in the oil-and-gas leasing program and that a new environmental review was necessary. Haaland stated in August that Interior would need to complete its “review” for more than one year. Any guesses?
AIDEA argued that these actions violated the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that opened the door for the January 2021 lease sale. AIDEA had won seven 10-year leases in that sale to pursue development on tracts totaling about 370,000 acres in the 19-million-acre refuge.
AIDEA contends that “defendants have defied a direct congressional mandate [emphasis added] to facilitate development of oil and gas resources on the coastal plain of Alaska. Rather than follow the law and the science, defendants have engaged in a politically driven, systematic campaign to prevent any Coastal Plain development.”
AIDEA seeks a declaratory judgement stating that the Biden ANWR Moratorium is in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. The plea also asks for declaratory judgments that the Biden moratorium and Interior’s actions violate the 2017 Tax Act and constitute unlawful withholding and unreasonable delay of agency action – and are also arbitrary and capricious.
AIDEA also requests permanent injunctions to the federal defendants, and an order compelling government officials to continue with leasing and development. They want the grand slam homer, while they are down by three at the bottom of the nine. America is dependent on Alaska’s oil, and gas. But Biden would rather buy it from Russia. And OPEC (whom he is begging!). And Venezuela. [Alas, China has none to spare.]
Biden’s war against Alaska would be terrible enough. But Russia has been investing heavily and actively in the Arctic. According to Heritage Foundation scholars, Russia is spending nearly a billion dollars by 2026 to complete building a fiber optic cable (the Polar Express) spanning nearly 8,000 miles from the northern village of Teriberka to Vladivostok.
The state-funded project was authorized under Russia’s 2018 Northern Sea Route Development Plan, which calls for significant increases in Arctic development by 2035. Russia’s Putin is expanding Arctic oil and gaz drilling, with a new project in Laptev Sea. Russia has increased its Arctic military presence with new patrol vessels, new marine bases and other new equipment.
The once-described “evil empire” is also planning to test its Poseidon nuclear powered, nuclear-armed submarine torpedo in Arctic waters. And Russia has over 40 ice-breaking ships, compared to America’s two, one of which is over 30 years old; neither can travel in U.S. waters above the Arctic Circle.
Biden, as you may have seen, has brought more oil, gas, and coal operations to countries all over the globe while also depriving Americans hundreds of thousands of jobs directly and making millions of people unable to work. The latest polls show him 2 points behind the much-maligned and twice-impeached Donald Trump.
Biden’s anti-development policies are popular with wealthy environmental groups that oppose any use fossil fuels in Africa and the West. However, they do not support any use by Russians or Chinese, Indians or Iranians. Despite falling polls, rising gasoline prices, high home heating and groceries prices, Biden has continued to drive despite these factors.
He is aware that he will not be running again and has nothing at stake. He can only be President for Life (at the very least, his political life) if he continues pleasing the far left. Expect no course corrections.
Duggan Flanakin is Director of Policy Research for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.
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