Alaska senators and governors have long argued that lifting protections from the roadless rules in their state would provide a much-needed economic boost.
Among them is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, who has argued in the past that sections of Tongass can be responsibly developed in ways that would not necessarily lead to the loss of large tracts of forest. She has attacked the roadless highways rule as a “one size fits all” regulation that hurts the lumber industry, as well as mining, transportation and energy.
It is unclear if the Biden administration intends to completely replace the roadless rule protections in Tongass or if it would replace protections in some areas and leave others open to economic development.
Ms. Murkowski is also a key player in efforts to negotiate a bipartisan agreement on a radical infrastructure bill and the White House has been careful not to cross her. Already this year, Biden, seeking to strike a balance between his votes to fight climate change and protect the environment, while securing Ms. Murkowski’s support for a signature legislative effort, has alternated between approving policies. drilling for fossil fuels in some parts of Alaska while banned in others.
Ms. Murkowski’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mike Dunleavy, Republican Governor of Alaska, wrote on Twitter, “Disappointed by the @POTUS AK’s latest economic opportunity suppression. From tourism to lumber, Alaska’s great Tongass National Forest offers many opportunities for Alaskans, but the federal government wants Alaskans to suffer from lack of jobs and prosperity. “
“We will use all available tools to roll back the last imposition,” he added.
Environmentalists praised the move.