U.S. House Bill Threatens the Alaskan Wilderness


Photo: Peter Mather

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held Wednesday’s hearing to consider the “Alaska’s Right to Produce Act of 2023”. If passed, this bill would nullify proposed protection on more than 10 million acres of Western Arctic wildlife habitat and the cancelation of leases in the Arctic Refuge.

In the role of Democrat opposed to Arctic drilling: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

In the Arctic (National Wildlife) Refuge in Northeast Alaska, fossil fuel development is a looming threat to the Gwich’in people, she said in her opening remarks to a House Resources subcommittee, echoing the words of many Democrats before her. Their way of life depends on the survival of the caribou herd that reproduces in the region.

The bill is supported by all three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation. Republicans argued that shutting down domestic oil production would benefit autocratic regimes such as Iran and Venezuela.

Doreen Leavitt, representing the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, said without local taxes on oil industry infrastructure, essential services in Alaska’s most northern borough would wither.

We fund our own schools, search and rescue, ambulance, hospital, clinics in every single village – we won’t be able to sustain that, she testified.

However, environmentalists oppose the bill. They said the ecology of the region needs to be safeguarded for future generations.

The bill is rather controversial, Alaska Congresswoman believes that a way out of this complex issue can be found as follows:

I’d love to hear from each of you on how we can do a better job as Alaskans, making sure that industry, Native people and environmental folks can collaborate and work together, she said. And that’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere.

The bill has a good chance of passing the Republican-led House. Democratic leadership in the Senate is highly unlikely to bring it up for a vote.

Source: Alaska Public Media