PHOENIX — Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy needs allies.
Within 10 months, D.C. Democrats have obstructed logging activity in the Alaska’s southeast Tongasss National Forest, stalled progress on a life-saving road for remote residents to reach an all-weather airport in Cold Bay, cancelled oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and suspended new drilling activity in a state home to 60 percent of federal land.
“The phone line’s untouched,” Dunleavy told The Federalist of President Joe Biden’s outreach 10 months into an administration obstructing nearly every major development project sought in the nation’s largest landmass. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who has been implementing Biden’s far-left agenda, has also remained mute.
“They view Alaska as their own national park to save for mankind,” Dunleavy said in an interview Thursday, frustrated at the relentless intervention of beltway bureaucrats impeding any opportunity for development. Passage of the Democrats’ latest colossal reconciliation bill would make reinstated protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) permanent.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) conference in Phoenix, Dunleavy told The Federalist he used the annual gathering to build partnerships with similar resource-heavy states to combat federal overreach stifling abilities to develop.
“We’re in the process of trying to actually form an alliance with as many Republican states as possible, because that’s what we have in common: the ability to develop our resources within our borders that benefit our people, protect the environment, [and] create jobs,” Dunleavy said. “So we’re having conversations with a number of governors about the prospect of forming a stronger alliance.”
Such an alliance would mean more aggressive litigation in faster time.
“Right now we will file court cases with another state that’s being harmed by the Biden administration,” Dunleavy explained. “What we want is to get as many states as possible to work together in an alliance to file when one of the states is affected that may have a similar impact on a friendly state down the road.”
How aggressive a new coalition will be remains to be seen. In at least five lawsuits filed against the federal government under Biden, Alaska has only led in one, challenging the administration’s extension of federal land restrictions, some of which Dunleavy has argued are set aside for Alaskan Native Vietnam veterans.
At least two lawsuits in which Alaska was a part have born fruit. In June, a federal judge successfully overturned President Biden’s suspension of new oil and gas leases. On Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) temporarily suspended Biden’s federal coronavirus vaccine mandate following a federal court order to block the rule.
Until a new president comes into the White House, Dunleavy doesn’t expect any projects blocked by the administration to resume anytime soon absent judicial action, even where they’re needed most.
In King Cove, residents of an isolated southwest island chain have pushed for decades to build a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. If built, the road would offer a lifeline to the area’s inhabitants with access to a year-round airstrip where, in the case of an emergency under harsh winter conditions, assistance could be reached. Radical environmentalists represented by Haaland, however, have objected to the road’s construction out of spite for development.
“For some reason, some people think roads in Alaska are bad things,” Dunleavy said. “We happen to think they are good things.”
While Haaland has made no decision on whether to approve the road’s construction, the interior secretary postponed a trip to the area that was scheduled for September with plans to visit later this year. No trip to Dunleavy’s knowledge has been put back on the calendar, and the governor doesn’t expect the secretary ever will come. The nearly 1,000 people in the community are now about to go through another winter with no road access to the nearby all-weather airport.
States can file as many lawsuits as they please, federal judges still have to rule on them. Under a hostile White House that refuses to even communicate, however, let alone visit the state, Dunleavy has few other options.