Biden Administration Denies Mining and Drilling Access to Alaskan Wilderness

The Biden administration denied permission on Friday for an Alaska agency to build a 211-mile industrial road that would have cut through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve to reach copper and zinc deposits beneath untouched wilderness.

Separately, the administration said it planned to retain protections for 28 million acres of land scattered across Alaska that the Trump administration had tried to open up to mining and oil and gas drilling. The lands include unique habitat for three major caribou herds, migratory birds and Pacific salmon.

The pair of decisions from the Interior Department is part of a steady stream of environmental moves that President Biden has taken ahead of the November election to solidify his standing among conservationists, an important constituency. Climate activists have pressured the administration to act more aggressively to protect public lands from new oil and gas projects.

“Today, my administration is stopping a 211-mile road from carving up a pristine area that Alaska Native communities rely on, in addition to steps we are taking to maintain protections on 28 million acres in Alaska from mining and drilling,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “These natural wonders demand our protection.”

In blocking the road, known as the Ambler Access Project, the administration prioritized conservation and protections for tribal communities that depend on hunting and fishing in the area over mineral development that might enable more clean energy.

The proposed industrial road was considered essential to reach what is estimated to be a $7.5 billion copper deposit. Ambler Metals, the mining venture behind the project, has said the copper it seeks is critical to make wind turbines, photovoltaic cells and transmission lines needed for renewable energy.

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