Today, the Biden Administration put a hold on the Trump Administration’s last ditch effort to open up millions of acres of federal public lands in Alaska, known as D1 lands, to mining and oil and gas development. The Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pushed to open these lands to industrial development in the last few weeks of his Administration despite opposition from regional Tribes and conservation groups.
According to the Federal Register Notice, the Interior Department has identified major defects in the Public Land Orders (PLOs), including failure to secure consent from the Department of Defense with regard to lands withdrawn for defense purposes, failure to adequately analyze impacts on subsistence hunting and fish, reliance on outdated data, failure to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, and possibly failure to adequately consider impacts under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The BLM will undertake a new review, complete necessary consultation and correct defects in the Public Land Orders.
Earthworks and its conservation allies sent a letter to Interior on March 24, 2021, requesting a delay and further review.
Statement of Earthworks Northwest Program Director Bonnie Gestring:
“We’re heartened by the Biden Administration’s decision to reverse course on Trump’s last minute rush to open up vast swaths of Alaska public lands to industrial development,” said Bonnie Gestring, Northwest Program Director for Earthworks. “These public lands are vital to the health and well-being of Alaska Native communities throughout the region. Environmental justice requires a fair and inclusive process that also thoroughly considers the wealth of fish and wildlife habitat within these public lands.”