Washington, DC—Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forest, and Public Lands Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee, spoke on the House floor opposing HR 1146 and in support of a Motion to Recommit.

HR 1146 would end energy development in a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, originally opened in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill is opposed by the entire Alaska Congressional delegation, Governor, and local Alaska Native population.

By not allowing development of this land, which a majority of Alaskans support, the United States would increase energy dependence on foreign adversaries, like China and Russia. The Motion to Recommit, offered by Representative Curtis, would “delay enactment until the President certifies that the bill will not result in a net increase of Russian oil and gas imports to the United States.”

“How is it we’re here considering a bill that has been opposed by every member of the Alaskan delegation since 1980? Not just the Alaskan delegation, but every governor of Alaska since 1980, and even the gubernatorial candidates last year: two Republicans, an Independent, and a Democrat oppose this bill.

I hear the term “science denier” tossed around, but I ask you who is denying science the most? Those who ignore the 85% of the carbon coming from outside the U.S. or those who think impacting .01% of ANWR will destroy the environment of Alaska.”

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. Speaker, we’re all familiar with the famous line from Thomas Jefferson, “The government closest to the people serves the people best.”

So how is it we’re here considering a bill that has been opposed by every member of the Alaskan delegation since 1980? Not just the Alaskan delegation, but every governor of Alaska since 1980, and even the gubernatorial candidates last year: two Republicans, an Independent, and a Democrat oppose this bill.

This week, many of my friends across the aisle sought to protect “their” coastlines by banning offshore energy development. They know what’s best in their states. Apparently, this same standard of local control does not apply to Mr. Young, who is the only person in this body elected by the residents of Alaska.

Not only is this bill is opposed by the entire Alaska delegation, it’s opposed by the local Alaska Native population and written without consultation with the local Alaska Natives.

As the member of Congress who represents Bears Ears National Monument, I hear from my colleagues all the time about importance of Native American consultation—and they’re right. 

However, with local Alaska Native opposition to this bill and no consultation with them, this seems like a double standard.

In fact, just three days ago, I sat in a hearing where BLM was criticized for not working with the Native population. They held 11 formal sessions and 7 listening sessions with tribal leaders. Unless my colleagues took 18 trips to Alaska I am unaware of, we’re working with a double standard.

Those of you from states with small federal ownership have a difficult time understanding what it’s like to be from a state or county with has over 90% federal ownership. Imagine being a local elected official: maintaining roads, police, fires, sewers, parks, etc. when only 10% of your property generates property tax.

At the end of the day, Mr. Young and the Arctic Inupiat, not the rest of us, should be determining the fate of Alaska.

I’ve heard the argument that this development  will contribute to climate change.

Really? I’m listening. This is one Republican that believes the climate is changing and man is influencing it. But I’m baffled why so many of you are willing to give a free pass to a human rights violating dictator in China and simultaneously deny the right of the Native Alaskans to have a living off the land.

If we were serious about climate change, I’ve got an idea for you. Let’s take all natural gas from Anwar that currently is going back into the ground and send it to China and India to replace their coal. You may smirk, but that one action alone would reduce more global emissions than implementing the entire Green New Deal.

I hear the term “science denier” tossed around, but I ask you who is denying science the most? Those who ignore the 85% of the carbon coming from outside the U.S. or those who think impacting .01% of ANWR will destroy the environment of Alaska. 

When the other side is ready to fight climate change with real solutions, Republicans stand at the ready with real ideas. This is not one of them.

To start, my friend Mr. Walden, and his colleagues on Energy and Commerce, seem to create a new bill each day that would truly help prevent the causes and impacts of climate change.

This Motion to Recommit will prevent the bill from taking effect until the President certifies that it will not result in a net increase of Russian oil and gas imports into the United States. 

The answer to climate change is not making the U.S. more reliant on foreign fossil fuels. A vote for this MTR is a vote to support local Alaska Natives, and a vote against this MTR is a vote for Russian oil interest.

I urge support of the Motion to Recommit. I yield the balance of my time.”

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