Alaska sharpens rebuke ahead of Ambler road rejection

By Hannah Northey | 04/17/2024 01:28 PM EDT

State officials said an Interior move to block development of the mining road would violate laws governing access to federal land in Alaska.

Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

Male caribou antlers are seen in the Oolah Valley at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The proposed 211-mile Ambler Road under consideration by the Interior Department would be the first through the preserve. Cadence Cook/National Park Service/AP

Alaska officials say the Biden administration’s looming rejection of a divisive mining road through remote parts of the state to undeveloped copper and zinc deposits would violate federal laws that govern access to public lands there.

The Interior Department is poised to deny approval for the proposed Ambler Road project as early as this week, according to a person familiar with the decision who was granted anonymity to speak because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

The agency is planning to choose, possibly as soon as this week, a “no action” alternative as part of a final environmental analysis tied to the proposed 211-mile Ambler access road, the person said. Such a move means the Bureau of Land Management would not grant developers of the road land-use authorizations and the project could not be built.


Such a rejection would amount to a major victory for opponents of the proposed two-lane access road, who have for years warned of large-scale impacts on caribou and salmon populations in an area of the country already reeling from climate change. They’ve emphasized that there are no active mines or pending applications in the mineral-rich Ambler district in northwestern Alaska.