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Press Release

Westerman Slams Biden's Decision to Shutter Alaska Energy Production

Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it will cancel the remaining seven oil and gas leases issued by the Trump administration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) while simultaneously locking up millions of acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"Clearly the Biden administration has learned nothing from its past failures. President Biden and his cronies continue to make reckless decisions that jeopardize Americans' paychecks and put our national security at risk. Alaska is home to some of the richest oil and natural gas deposits in the country, and responsible development of these resources is widely supported by the indigenous communities, residents of the state and their congressional delegation. Yet the Biden administration is so singularly focused on appeasing radical environmentalists that they are willing to steamroll everyone else in the process. Not only are Alaska’s energy reserves a source of opportunity and prosperity for the people of Alaska, they are also resources that are key to America’s energy independence and the state has a long track record of accessing them without harming local communities or area wildlife. Sitting in Washington, the Biden administration may think it alone holds the keys to America’s natural resources, but they are sorely mistaken. I will fight this decision in Congress and advocate for every American to be able to benefit from our lands and resources."


Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, former President Donald Trump established an oil and gas program in ANWR. It wasn't the first time this issue had come up; former President Jimmy Carter originally set aside a portion of ANWR's 1002 Area for energy development with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980. Then-Senator Joe Biden voted for this legislation.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act restricted energy development in the 1002 Area to 2,000 acres (one ten-thousandth of ANWR’s acreage) and could result in the development of 10.4 billion barrels of oil.
The Biden administration’s decision hamstrings economic opportunity in the state of Alaska. The oil industry is the largest source of unrestricted revenue to Alaska, contributing almost 90 percent of the state’s unrestricted general fund and more than $180 billion in total state revenue since the state’s creation. The industry supports more than 110,000 direct and indirect jobs. Since the 1950s, oil and gas operators have invested more than $55 billion in developing infrastructure in the North Slope and Cook Inlet.

This decision comes just one day after crude oil prices rose to their highest level in 2023, as OPEC+ and Russia jointly agreed to cap output. It also comes after Biden himself released a historic number of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), depleting the SPR to its lowest level since 1984 despite the fact that U.S. petroleum consumption is more than 28 percent higher than it was then.