The Biden administration announced late Tuesday that it would reverse a Trump-era land swap deal facilitating the construction, in an Alaska wilderness area, of a potentially life-saving road opposed by environmental groups.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) withdrew the land exchange — which had been finalized by former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in 2019 and aggressively defended in court by the Biden administration — and explained that it contained procedural flaws and wasn't consistent with agency policy. DOI Secretary Deb Haaland said the agency would initiate another environmental analysis of the proposal as part of President Biden’s conservation agenda.
“The debate around approving the construction of a road to connect the people of King Cove to life-saving resources has created a false choice, seeded over many years, between valuing conservation and wildlife or upholding our commitments to Indigenous communities,” Haaland said in a statement. “I reject that binary choice.”
“I am a lifelong conservationist, and I believe deeply in the need to protect our lands and waters and honor our obligations to Tribal Nations,” she added.