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Alaska News

Biden administration delays Trump-era plans to open millions of acres of Alaska federal lands to mining

The Interior Department on Thursday announced a two-year delay of several orders issued in the Trump administration’s final days that sought to open 28 million acres of land in Alaska to mineral development.

The decision will allow a review of five public land orders issued by the agency between Jan. 11 and Jan. 16, according to a statement provided by Interior Press Secretary Tyler Cherry on Thursday.

The decision covers land that Alaska can select for state ownership. It also covers much of the lands that an estimated 2,000 Vietnam-era Alaska Native veterans can select for 160-acre allotments under a 2019 law.

Qualifying veterans have until Dec. 29, 2025, to apply for the allotments.

“The department is committed to honoring those land selections, as well as land selections made by the State of Alaska, on eligible lands,” the Interior Department statement said.

The Interior Department wants to review “defects” in the public land orders involving requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, the statement said.

The areas to be looked at include “inadequate review of potential impacts on subsistence hunting and fishing,” the agency said.

The Interior Department said it will determine whether all 28 million acres should be eligible for mineral development.

The lands include vast swaths overseen by the Bureau of Land Management in Western Alaska, such as the Western Interior, Seward Peninsula and Bristol Bay regions, as well as in Southcentral Alaska and in eastern Alaska.

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