Biden To Approve Massive Oil Drilling Project In Blow To Climate Activists

 March 12, 2023

Expected to soon push ahead, with a massive northern Alaska oil drilling project , the Biden administration, is forecasted to create thousands of jobs and 600 million barrels of oil over its 30-year lifespan, according to multiple reports. The project developer says it would produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, deliver billions of dollars in revenue to region.

As reported by Bloomberg, on Friday evening, senior administration officials have signed off on three of the five drilling sites proposed by oil company ConocoPhillips as part of its Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve located in North Slope Borough, of Alaska. ConocoPhillips previously stated that, for the project to remain economic viability, the federal government would need to approve at least three of the sites.

President Biden and senior White House officials have been actively involved in overseeing the approval process, with the Department of Interior (DOI) set to publish the final decision on the Willow Project. Alaska lawmakers, industry groups, and local communities have urged the president to approve the project for its economic benefits, while activists argued it would have a devastating impact on the environment.

Last week, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, reportedly told Fox News Digital-

"This decision on Willow is a huge test for the Biden administration on so many issues that they claim to care about,"… "Of course it's critically important to Alaska, but it's critically important to America — a project of this size when we need energy security."

- Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska

Denying that a final decision has been made on Willow, however,in a statement Saturday, the White House noted that Biden's "aggressive climate agenda" is historic. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reportedly said-

"President Biden is delivering on the most aggressive climate agenda of any U.S. president in history and spurring an unprecedented expansion of clean energy," adding "The Department of the Interior will make an independent decision on the Willow Project," … "No final decisions have been made — anyone who says there has been a final decision is wrong."

-Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary

ConocoPhillips has projected it would produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day, create more than 2,500 construction jobs and 300 long-term jobs, and deliver as much as $17 billion in revenue for the federal government, Alaska and local communities, many of which are Indigenous. The project was originally approved under the Trump administration, before a federal judge ordered the government to conduct a more rigorous environmental analysis.

The project, reportedly would entail constructing up to 250 wells, multiple pipelines, a central processing plant, an airport and a gravel mine. Opponents of project Willow argue, that it would damage the environment from both the construction and emissions produced from drilled oil. They claim the project would leave a total carbon footprint that is not in keeping with the Biden administration's broader climate agenda.

The Sierra Club tweeted on Friday-

"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."

-Sierra Club

Climate-focused Democratic lawmakers, in addition to environmental groups, have similarly urged Biden against signing off on the project. They claim that the project would increase global emissions, countering progress the administration has made on climate change. Reportedly it is estimated to produce 278 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions which is said to be the equivalent of the carbon footprint of two million cars, over its 30-year lifespan.

On Friday, following the reports, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., tweeted-

"If this story is right, it's a complete betrayal of Biden's promise not to allow more drilling and a complete catastrophe to rein in climate chaos,". "You can't ask other countries to forgo their fossil fuels if we keep greenlighting projects here in America."

-Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore

Apparently, earlier in February, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz said that

[Willow is the] "exact opposite of what the Biden administration stands for."

-Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz

With millions of users calling on Biden to block it, the project has also sparked a large opposition campaign on social media, As of Friday, hashtag #StopWillow has gone viral, garnering more than 650 million impressions across platforms. Also two petitions urging Biden to "say no" to the Willow Project, had received more than four million signatures.

In favor of the project, Sen. Sullivan and his fellow members of the state's congressional delegation which include Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, have aggressively advocated for the Biden administration to approve an economically viable proposal for the project over the last several months. They have argued that it would provide a substantial boost for the state and local communities.

Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, said-

"The Willow Project has been one of my top priorities because it is deeply important to our future as a state,"… "In the short term, this project will provide thousands of good-paying union jobs and help jump-start Alaska’s economy." adding "In the long term, the revenues from Willow will pay for essential state services like public safety and investments in our education system."

-Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola

As the tug of war continues, with the nation and the people of Alaska trapped in the middle, it will be interesting how Biden reacts. Only time will tell.

“Utilize caution and patience in decision-making because temporary wrong decisions can bring you a lifetime of hurt and pain.”

-Germany Kent
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