Alaskan senators and governors have long claimed that lifting the protection of roadless rule in their state would bring much-needed economic boost to their state.
Among them is Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who has argued in the past that parts of Tongass can be responsibly developed so that large areas of forest are not necessarily lost. It attacked the roadless rule as a “one-size-fits-all” standard that harms the timber industry as well as mining, transportation and energy.
It is not clear whether the Biden government intends to completely replace the protective measures of the roadless rule in the Tongass, or whether they would replace protective measures in some areas and leave others open to economic development.
Ms. Murkowski is also a key figure in efforts to negotiate a bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive infrastructure bill, and the White House has been careful not to upset her. Earlier this year, Mr. Biden – trying to strike a balance between his vows to fight climate change and protecting the environment while securing Ms. Murkowski’s support for a legislative signature – switched between guidelines that put fossil fuel drilling into in some parts of Alaska while it is prohibited in others.
Ms. Murkowski’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mike Dunleavy, the Republican governor of Alaska, wrote on Twitter: “Disappointed with @POTUS ‘recent suppression of AK’s economic opportunities. From tourism to timber, Alaska’s great Tongass National Forest offers many opportunities for Alaskans, but the federal government wants Alaskans to suffer from the lack of jobs and wealth. ”
“We will use every available tool to push back the latest imposition,” he added.
Environmentalists praised the move.