Trump casts shadow as feds weigh options for Alaska mining road

By Hannah Northey | 04/04/2024 01:22 PM EDT

The Ambler Road would cut through pristine lands to provide access to a remote mining district in northwestern Alaska.

A small mountain lake near the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

A small tarn is seen in a hidden valley in the Itkillik Preserve at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The proposed 211-mile Ambler Road would run through the park. Cadence Cook/National Park Service via AP

A mining road that would cut across pristine land and critical caribou and salmon habitat in northwestern Alaska is directly in the crosshairs of the coming presidential election — and conservation groups, Trump administration alumni, Alaska lawmakers, tribes and miners are all angling to have their way.

The Biden administration is poised to decide the fate of the proposed Ambler Road by the end of June. Opponents of the 211-mile-long private road, which would cross federal, state and tribal land to access a remote mining district, are hoping the Interior Department opts not to approve the project.

But they also anxiously acknowledge any decision could be reversed if former President Donald Trump gets reelected to a second term, and are keenly aware that approving Ambler Road is a key priority outlined in a playbook that conservatives have crafted for the next Republican administration.


“We’re taking that document seriously,” said Sam Zeno, a policy analyst for the Center for American Progress, which opposes the project. “If Ambler Road is in there, it’s at risk.”