Alaska House resolution calls on feds to scrap rule limiting NPR-A development

Rep. Thomas Baker, R-Kotzebue, speaks in support of an Alaska House resolution calling on the federal government to withdraw a rule limiting development in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska on March 1, 2024. (Eric Stone/Alaska Public Media)

The Alaska House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday calling on the Biden administration to withdraw a proposal that would sharply limit oil and gas development in much of the National Petroleum Reserve — Alaska.

Last September, the Bureau of Land Management proposed a rule that would apply “maximum protection” to more than half of the NPR-A. The rule would bar oil and gas development on 10.6 million acres of the reserve. It would also put up barriers to new roads and other infrastructure development unless strict criteria are met.

The Biden administration announced the move a year ago, hours before publicizing its approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project, which also lies within the NPR-A. 

But Rep. Thomas Baker, R-Kotzebue, said the Biden administration failed to adequately consult with tribal governments within and around the reserve about the rule’s possible impacts.

“The BLM is proposing a rule which would turn millions of acres into de facto wilderness, which would preclude any development, any subsistence activities,” Baker said on the House floor. “It would preclude a lot of things which are integral to the state of Alaska and the people of my district, and, frankly, the people of all of Alaska.”

North Slope Alaska Native groups have repeatedly called for an extension of the public comment period on the rule, saying many were unable to attend meetings during the busy fall hunting and whaling seasons. Alaska’s Congressional delegation has also opposed the measure.

The House resolution calls on the BLM to scrap the proposed rule and start over. It passed in a near-unanimous vote, with only Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, voting no. It now heads to the Senate, where it’s scheduled for a hearing in the Resources Committee on Wednesday.

Eric Stone covers state government, tracking the Alaska Legislature, state policy and its impact on all Alaskans. Reach him at

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