Complaint: Indigenous folk knowledge was used by Biden to cancel oil, gas leases in Alaska last year

Complaint: Indigenous folk knowledge was used by Biden to cancel oil, gas leases in Alaska last year

  • February 19, 2024

Suzanne Downing, Must Read Alaksa

From the time he took office, President Joe Biden signaled “a clear commitment to science” and pledged sweeping initiatives to elevate the role of science in the federal government.

But instead of science, the Biden Administration immediately leaned into the concept of “indigenous knowledge” and allowed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use the loosely defined knowledge to cancel seven oil and gas leases in Alaska.

“Interior claimed that its environmental review supporting the cancellations was made with ‘the best available science and in recognition of the Indigenous Knowledge of the original stewards of this area’” according to Protect the Public Trust, which filed a complaint against the Biden Administration.

The complaint, which is not a lawsuit, was filed with Mark Lee Greenblatt, who heads up the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Interior; Arati Prabhakar, who is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Laura Daniel-Davis, acting deputy secretary of Interior; and Alondra Nelson, deputy director for Science and Society White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The watchdog group said that the White House, through the Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Science and Technology Policy, subsequently backed away from its own policy commitment by providing guidance that encouraged agencies to “promote and enable a government-wide effort to improve the recognition and inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge” in research, policy, and other decision making.

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