Biden Administration Stops Major Mining Project Due to Tribal Hunting Concerns

The Department of Interior is likely to issue a determination that effectively halts a major mining development in Alaska due to worries that the project will upset dozens of local tribes.

According to various news outlets, the Biden administration planned to issue a “no action” order for the federal land that had previously been designated as the site of Ambler Road, a proposed 211-mile industrial road deep into the Alaskan wilderness.

The project was supposed to pass through the Arctic National Park and Preserve, a large area of protected land in the state’s northern portion.

Biden Administration Stops Major Mining Project Due to Tribal Hunting Concerns

The news might put an end to a years-long dispute between local tribes opposed to the project because of its influence on subsistence hunting, which is an important aspect of various native lifestyles throughout the state.

The project was also a source of contention for the tribes because it was approved just days before Donald Trump’s departure by an Interior Secretary who Politico discovered had concealed environmental and tribal implications considered during the planning phase.

Now, it appears that the project is dead; the federal government’s rejection to authorize road building means that there is no plan to establish a supply chain to give access to massive copper and zinc deposits known as the Ambler Mining District in Alaska’s Northwest. Minerals play an important role in electric vehicle batteries and engines.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference, a tribal group representing dozens of villages, had long opposed the project, warning that the road and associated mines would “have devastating impacts on all fish in-migration and out-migration, spawning and rearing habitat, and will especially compromise species at risk like Chinook” because of the sheer number of rivers and estuaries the project would be expected to cross.

“The Ambler Road will pierce the heart of the hunting and fishing lands that our people have relied on for thousands of years,” according to a webpage set up by the Conference to oppose the proposal.

It continues: “The road alone would have a negative impact on 125 miles and 200,000 acres of public lands administered by the state in trust for its citizens. The Ambler Road project would be among the largest and most devastating in the state’s history.”

In a statement received by Politico, the firm focused on mine development and labeled the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) move “an unlawful and politically motivated decision”. It is likely to be challenged by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Biden Administration Stops Major Mining Project Due to Tribal Hunting Concerns

The decision was also denounced by Alaska’s entire bipartisan congressional delegation. Democrat Mary Peltola made a long statement calling the Biden administration’s decision “disappointing” and stating that the resources were critical for clean energy development — as well as providing an economic opportunity in a region depleted of many.

“The Ambler Access Road is required to access the Ambler Mining District, whose development has the potential to produce new, well-paying jobs in a state region with limited economic opportunities. Our country depends on foreign governments for many of the vital minerals utilized in clean energy research, national security, and everyday technology,” the lawmaker stated.

“Alaska has a plethora of natural resources that may be sustainably used to increase domestic industry and innovation; however, we must be able to access those reserves. In this time of heightened international and geopolitical turmoil, we must not arbitrarily limit Alaskans’ access to deposits like Ambler.

The Interior Department’s final decision is scheduled to be announced later this week.

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