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'Gutless' vote on bill to undo Biden's Alaska energy 'sanctions' could doom Dem in tough race

Alaska Republicans take aim at Rep. Mary Peltola over her support for Biden's agenda, which has impacted Alaska's "resource development" and "economic prosperity" in the U.S.

Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, is facing renewed criticism from her GOP challengers for refusing to take a stand against the Biden administration's agenda, which they claim will harm Alaska's "resource development" and "economic prosperity" in the United States.

The current frustrations with Peltola, the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Alaska, came after she voted "present" on a bill this week to roll back some of the 63 executive orders President Biden has made against the state's oil and gas economy.

"Mary Peltola was elected to Washington to represent Alaskans, and she’s failed to stand up to Biden and his radical agenda one too many times because she’s more interested in scoring political points and appeasing Joe Biden," Alaska Republican Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, who announced her campaign to unseat Peltola in November, told Fox News Digital.

GOP Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota, introduced the Alaska’s Right to Produce Act in November. The bill, which House lawmakers passed in a 214-199 vote on Wednesday, provides for oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).


Taking aim at Peltola, Dahlstrom said her opponent's "latest ‘present’ vote is inexcusable and Alaskans must remember this at the ballot box in November."

Republican Alaska House candidate Nick Begich, who previously ran to represent Alaska in the House during the 2022 election cycle, called Peltola's decision to vote present a "gutless" decision.

"Mary Peltola continues to disappoint. A vote of ‘present’ is gutless and does not represent the fiercely resilient and hardworking people of Alaska," Begich told Fox. "America needs Alaskan energy and minerals to power economic prosperity and security, and the greatest source of those domestic resources is in Alaska."

Begich also praised Stauber's "leadership" on the measure, saying he is "doing a better job of representing Alaska than our only congressional representative in the House."

The Alaska's Right to Produce Act, according to a summary of the bill's text, nullifies "any order or action by the President or the Department of the Interior that places a moratorium on, suspends, or otherwise pauses leasing in ANWR's 1002 Area."

Additionally, it "ratifies and approves all authorizations and permits issued for the establishment and administration of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program" and calls for the Environmental Protection Agency and other applicable federal departments and agencies to "process, reinstate, or continue to maintain such authorizations and permits."

"Within 30 days of the bill's enactment, Interior must accept bids for certain ANWR leases that were canceled and reissue the leases. The bill states that the reissued leases must be considered to meet the requirements of specified existing laws, such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973," the summary states. "By December 22, 2024, Interior must also conduct a second lease sale. Further, the bill limits the authority of the President and Interior to cancel future leases issued under the program."

Peltola – who said Wednesday she supports "the bill's intent" and recognized that Alaska "needs to develop energy for our use and economic well-being" – ultimately withdrew her support for the measure because it would "nullify the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area," which was created through executive order by President Barack Obama in 2016.

In defending her decision, the Alaska lawmaker noted that she proposed an amendment that "would have removed this resilience area from the final bill text" and also "introduced a clean version of the Alaska's Right to Produce Act that doesn't impact" the specified area.

Prior to voting "present," Peltola, the only Democrat to co-sponsor the bill, reportedly sent a memo to her Democratic colleagues urging them to vote "no" on the measure.


"I am the Democratic co-lead for this bill and voted for it in committee. However, this legislation has significant unintended consequences that could adversely affect indigenous communities and the Arctic Ocean environment," Peltola wrote.

In arguing against the bill, Peltola told her colleagues that the "unintended consequences" of the bill were "too significant to allow it to pass."

Since winning a special election to the House in 2022 to fill the seat left vacant by the late GOP incumbent Don Young, Peltola has faced criticism from her GOP challengers for her incessant support for Biden and the actions he's taken that impact Alaskans.

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy lamented the Biden administration's "economic war on the 49th state" in March, saying Alaska "may have had more sanctions imposed" on it than Iran.

Following the Biden administration's decision last month to block oil and gas drilling across more than 13 million acres of public land within the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), which Congress specifically set aside for resource development, as well as its blockage of the Ambler Road project, Peltola called the move "a huge step back for Alaska."

"Closing off NPR-A is a huge step back for Alaska, failing to strike a balance between the need for gap oil and natural gas and legitimate environmental concerns, and steamrolling the voices of many Alaska Natives in the decision-making process," Peltola said at the time. "The Ambler Road decision is premature, as real conversations among stakeholders in the region are ongoing."

Though she rebuked the decision, Peltola's remarks were far less scathing than comments from Alaska GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who accused Biden of "undermining the rule of law" and targeting Alaskans while "terrorists in Iran and communists in China get off scot-free and are strengthened."

"The Biden administration may be focused on short-term political gains, but at the expense of Alaska’s long-term future, limiting jobs for Alaskans, revenues for our state, and the future energy and mineral security of our nation," Murkowski said at the time. "Once again, the President and his team are making unjustifiable decisions that hurt us while allowing some of the worst regimes in the world – in nations like Iran and Russia – to stay in power, enrich themselves from resource production, and then use those revenues to finance terror and war."

"At this point, the Biden administration is undermining the rule of law, ignoring the voices of Alaska Natives, and punishing Alaska despite our strong environmental record," the senator added.

Echoing Murkowski, Sullivan said, "The Biden administration sanctions Alaskans, while terrorists in Iran and communists in China get off scot-free and are strengthened. It's no wonder, with such anti-American policies, that authoritarian regimes in Russia, China and Iran are on the march."

"The Biden administration is deliberately undertaking policies to punish Americans and undermine our strengths while continuing to help our adversaries," Sullivan added at the time. "Shutting down two of the world's most important energy and critical mineral developments in our country sends this message to the dictators in Iran, China and Russia: We won't use our resources to strengthen America, but we’ll become more dependent on yours."

Peltola, who has served in the House since 2022 and endorsed Biden's re-election bid, will face off against Dahlstrom and Begich in Alaska's primary election, which will use ranked-choice voting and is slated to take place on Aug. 24. The four candidates who receive the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, will move on to the state's general election on Nov. 5.

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