The Biden administration will approve ConocoPhillips’ application to establish three drilling locations in Alaska, overruling environmentalists who had criticized the project, according to Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The Interior Department will reportedly release the decision next week, setting in motion Conoco’s plans to finally begin work on the project, known as Willow, since it first sought approval in 2018, according to Bloomberg. The $8 billion project is projected to produce roughly 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day, roughly 1.6% of the nation’s current oil production.
Approval to drill at three sites would match with the Bureau of Land Management’s “preferred alternative,” down from Conoco’s initial proposal of five, after the project’s initial approval in 2020 was overturned in federal court, and the government was ordered to perform a more thorough environmental review, Bloomberg reported. The project would give Conoco access to an estimated total of 600 million barrels of oil.
“This MUST not be the case [President Biden],” said the Sierra Club, a major climate advocacy organization, in a tweet. “The Willow project is a climate disaster waiting to happen that would devastate wildlife, lands, AK communities, and our climate. We need to speed our transition to clean energy, not double-down on oil and gas.”
BREAKING: If Bloomberg’s report is accurate & @POTUS is planning to approve the Willow Project which will release around 280 million tons of carbon emissions, then he will be creating a carbon bomb.
This is NOT final. We hope they change course before it’s too late. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/mYwsVnBGTo
— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) March 11, 2023
Earlier Friday, former Vice President Al Gore criticized the project, speaking with the British newspaper The Guardian.
“The proposed expansion of oil and gas drilling in Alaska is recklessly irresponsible,” Gore told the Guardian. “The pollution it would generate will not only put Alaska native and other local communities at risk, it is incompatible with the ambition we need to achieve a net zero future.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that “no final decision” had been made, and that “anyone who says there has been a final decision is wrong,” according to CNN. Jean-Pierre also defended the president for “delivering the most aggressive climate agenda of any U.S. president in history.”
The project received strong bipartisan support in Alaska with the entire state legislature passing a resolution in support of it in February. While some Native Alaskan tribes viewed the project as a key source of revenue and jobs, others criticized the project over climate and health risks, according to CNN.
A digital campaign, using the hashtags “#stopwillow” and “#stopthewillowproject” accelerated in recent weeks on TikTok, prompting Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska to question whether the Chinese government was promoting the campaign. One key group behind the “#stopwillow” campaign is Stop Willow, an initiative of the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF), a Colorado-based environmental activist organization that often targets domestic oil and gas projects.
CLF was co-founded by Swiss-born left-wing billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.
The White House and ConocoPhillips did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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