Biden to approve controversial Willow Oil Project in Alaska

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Tthe Biden administration is approving the controversial major Willow oil project on Alaska’s rich North Slope, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The decision to be announced on Monday is one of President Joe Biden’s most ambitious climate options and is likely to draw criticism from environmentalists who say it flies in the face of Democratic presidential promises.

Biden’s plan would initially allow three drill sites, the sources said, which project developer ConocoPhillips has said would include about 219 total wells. The company has said that they believe that option is possible. ConocoPhillips will give up rights to about 68,000 acres of existing leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, two of the sources said.

The sources have direct knowledge of the administration’s plan but did not want to be identified ahead of an official announcement.

Climate activists have been outraged that Biden appeared open to greenlighting the project, which they said jeopardized Biden’s climate legacy. Allowing oil company ConocoPhillips to move forward with the drilling plan would also break a Biden campaign promise to stop new oil drilling on public lands, they say.

The administration’s decision is unlikely to be the final word, with litigation expected regardless of the outcome.

ConocoPhillips’ Willow Alaska project could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day, create up to 2,500 jobs during construction and 300 long-term jobs, and generate billions of dollars in royalties and revenue taxes to the federal, state and local governments, the company. saying.

Read more: The melting Arctic could destroy native ways of life while making some Alaskans rich

The project, located in the federally designated Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, has broad political support in the state. Alaska Native state lawmakers recently met with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to drum up support for Willow.

But environmental activists have promoted a #StopWillow campaign on social media, trying to remind Biden of his promises to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy.

The administration’s decision comes after the US Bureau of Land Management, as part of an environmental review, advanced in February a development option calling for up to three drill sites initially, which it said would include about 219 total wells. ConocoPhillips Alaska said it believed that option was possible.

Alaska’s Republican US senators warned that other limits could kill the project, making it uneconomic.

But the land management agency noted that the final decision may look different, and the US Department of the Interior said it had “significant concerns” about the project and the option to send a ‘ group forward, “including direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on wildlife and Alaska Natives. livelihood.”

Alaska’s bipartisan conference delegation met with Biden and his advisers in early March to make their case for the project, as environmental groups mounted opposition and urged the challenges of the project to put pressure on the administration.

The administration’s decision is unlikely to be the final word, with litigation expected regardless of the outcome.

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