Biden administration heads for approval of major oil drilling project in Alaska USA News Update

Biden administration heads for approval of major oil drilling project in Alaska

Oil extraction site in Alaska.

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President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday recommended a scaled-down version of a major oil drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope, taking a step toward approving the $8 billion Willow Plan that groups climate condemn for a long time.

The Home Office’s Bureau of Land Management has released an environmental analysis that proposes reducing the number of drilling sites from five to three under the project, which is being led by Conoco PhillipsAlaska’s largest crude oil producer.

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The Biden administration has 30 days to make a final decision on whether to approve the Willow project in the northernmost part of the state. Interior stressed it could choose a different option, including taking no action or postponing a decision on permits at more than one drill site.

The Willow project would produce about 600 million barrels of oil over 30 years and generate about 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions, according to Interior estimates. Environmental advocates argue the plan would undermine the Biden administration’s program to cut fossil fuel production and say the project’s emissions would be roughly equivalent to what 66 new coal-fired power plants produce in one year.

The Ministry of the Interior said in a press release that it has “substantial concerns” about the Willow project, including its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and its impact on local wildlife in Alaska’s National Petroleum Preserve.

Kristen Miller, executive director of the nonprofit Alaska Wilderness League, called Project Willow a “massive climate disaster” and urged the administration to reverse its decision to move the plan forward.

“Our window for action is rapidly closing to avert catastrophic climate change, and this plan only brings us one giant leap closer,” Miller said. “We should prioritize ways to preserve this irreplaceable ecosystem, protecting critical wildlife and subsistence resources and avoiding increased climate pollution.”

Project Willow supporters, including the state’s congressional delegation and some Alaska Native tribal governments, say the plan would create more than 2,500 jobs for Alaska residents, generate up to $17 billion dollars in revenue for the federal government and would strengthen the nation’s domestic energy security. .

Conoco Phillips said in a press release that it “welcomes and continues to review” the government’s environmental analysis and said the decision “represents a major step in the permitting process”.

“We believe Willow will benefit local communities and enhance America’s energy security while producing oil in an environmentally and socially responsible manner,” Erec Isaacson, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska, said in a statement.

Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the administration’s decision to move the project forward is “an important step toward restoring the ‘American Energy Independence and Strengthening American Energy Security’.

“Alaska has a strong history of contributing to American energy security and this project will position them to continue that legacy,” Manchin said in a statement.

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Biden administration heads for approval of major oil drilling project in Alaska

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