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Murkowski's Ambler road fury

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Murkowski in September. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An Alaska mining road is driving a wedge between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Biden administration.

Why it matters: Murkowski isn't satisfied with money for graphite mining or the administration's Goldilocks attempt at approving the Willow oil project: She wants this long-delayed road built.

Catch up quick: Biden's Interior Department suspended right-of-way permits for the Ambler mining road, citing tribal and subsistence considerations. The road would enable mineral exploration in northwestern Alaska.

  • A record of decision on the road approvals is expected in the second quarter of 2024 after completion of a supplemental environmental impact statement.

Driving the news: Murkowski is frustrated with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for past statements on the project timeline, after the secretary told her at a hearing in May that the decision would happen this year.

  • Days after Haaland's testimony, the department pushed the timeline to where it is now.
  • At a hearing last week with Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, she prodded him to say the timeline again — "for the record."
  • "Not saying that I don't believe him, but you know what, with the Department right now on Alaska-related projects, we're not believing what is being said," she told Jael during an interview in the Senate subway tunnels.
  • Murkowski went so far as to say that Haaland may have intentionally misled the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this year.
  • "She was either misleading or she didn't have the information or she gave me the answer she thought I wanted to hear, rather than what she knew was going to happen, and we've not been able to determine which it actually is."

Of note: Language in the Senate Interior-EPA approps bill report would direct the BLM to provide the committee — on which Murkowski sits — with monthly status updates on Ambler's progress.

What they're (not) saying: The Interior Department declined to comment.

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