Biden Administration Caters to ENGOs over Alaska Natives
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS), and the North Slope Borough (Borough) are united in opposition to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement that it is proceeding to fundamentally abandon the 2020 National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) Integrated Activity Plan (IAP) and revert to the 2013 NPR-A IAP.
Today’s announcement by the BLM diminishes Alaska Native self-determination by ignoring the needs, concerns and input of the local people who live, work and subsist in and around the NPR-A. The 2020 IAP was developed in partnership with the Borough and in consultation with North Slope Tribes and Alaska Native corporations. At the urging of these local and Alaska Native stakeholders, the 2020 IAP included provisions that would have ensured future economic development opportunities for the region, allowed for community infrastructure needs to be considered in the NPR-A and required that areas identified by local and Alaska Native entities be excluded from future leasing. Changes the North Slope Iñupiat fought to include. Today’s decision by the Biden Administration to ignore the needs and concerns of the North Slope Iñupiat is in direct contradiction to its top public policy goals, to advance racial equity and support underserved communities.
ASRC President and CEO Rex Rock, Sr. stated, “On multiple occasions, ASRC, the Borough, and ICAS have offered to work in partnership with the Biden Administration on issues affecting our region. Secretary Haaland and President Biden have chosen, with this decision, to not only ignore the voices of the North Slope Iñupiat but to exclude us from the decision-making process on issues that impact our Iñupiat communities and our culture.”
Morrie Lemen, Executive Director of the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope said, “Secretary Haaland has violated her Department’s consultation guidance and E.O. 13175 by failing to consult with ICAS. We are a federally recognized Tribe, and this action directly impacts the livelihoods of our tribal members. This is further proof that the Biden Administration prioritizes its relationships with environmental organizations over the sovereignty of Alaska Natives.”
North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower, Jr. stated, “I have a responsibility to the people of the North Slope to protect the long-term sustainability of our communities through a viable economic base, a responsibility that I take very seriously. Secretary Haaland is failing in her responsibility to the Alaska Native people of the North Slope.”
About the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope
The Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS) is a Regional Alaska Native tribal government
governed by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the ICAS Constitution. ICAS was
established as an IRA on August 26, 1971. The mission of ICAS is to exercise its sovereign rights
and powers for the benefit of tribal members, to conserve and retain tribal lands and resources
including subsistence and environmental issues, to establish and carry out justice systems
including social services pursuant to Iñupiat tribal law and custom, and to increase the variety and
quality of services provided to current tribal members and for our future generations.
About the North Slope Borough
The North Slope Borough (Borough) is a home rule government located above the Arctic Circle
that represents the roughly 10,000 residents in the eight communities of Anaktuvuk Pass,
Atqasuk, Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, Point Hope, Point Lay, Utqiaġvik and Wainwright. The Borough’s
jurisdiction includes the entire National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) and the villages
within it—Nuiqsut, Atqasuk, Utqiaġvik, and Wainwright. In 1972, the Iñupiat people of the North
Slope formed the Borough to ensure their communities would benefit from oil and gas
development on their ancestral homelands. It was the first time Native Americans took control of
their destiny through the use of a municipal government. The Borough exercises its powers of
taxation, property assessment, education, and planning and zoning services. Taxes levied on oil
and gas infrastructure have enabled the Borough to invest in public infrastructure and utilities,
support education, and provide police, fire, emergency and other services. Elsewhere in rural
Alaska, these services are typically provided by the state or federal governments.