As Biden weighs Willow, he blocks other Alaska oil drilling – KSL TV

Wilmington, del. (AP) — As President Joe Biden prepares a final decision on the massive Willow Oil Project in Alaska, he will prevent or limit oil drilling on 16 million acres in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, an official with the administration.

The announcement, expected Sunday night, would ban drilling on nearly 3 million acres of the Arctic Ocean (closing the rest of its federal waters to oil exploration) and limit drilling on more than 13 million acres on a vast swath of land known as the national oil reserve – alaska.

The official requested anonymity to discuss the conservation effort before it is officially released.

The moves come as regulators prepare to announce a final decision on the Willow project, a controversial ConocoPhillips-driven plan to drill for oil in the oil reserve. Climate activists have spoken out against the Willow project, calling it a “carbon bomb” that would be a betrayal of Biden’s campaign promises to stop new oil and gas drilling.

Meanwhile, lawmakers, unions and Alaskan Indian communities have pressured Biden to pass the bill, saying it would bring much-needed jobs and billions of dollars in tax and mitigation funds to the vast region covered of snow and ice nearly 600 miles (965 kilometers) from Anchorage.

Biden’s willow decision will be one of his biggest climate decisions and comes as he prepares for a potential re-election bid in 2024. The decision to approve willow risks alienating young voters who They have urged the White House to take stronger climate action and could spark protests similar to those that took place against the failed Keystone XL pipeline during the Obama administration.

Rejection of the bill would meet strong resistance from Alaska’s bipartisan congressional delegation, which has met with senior officials at the White House in recent days to lobby for the bill. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who provided key support in confirming Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, said it was no secret that she had cooperated with the White House on a variety of issues.

“Cooperation goes both ways,” he told reporters.

haaland, who fought the willow bill as a member of congress, has the final say on whether to pass it, though top white house climate officials are likely involved, with input from biden himself. The White House said a final decision on Willow has not been reached.

Under the conservation plan to be announced, Biden would ban drilling on nearly 3 million acres of the Arctic Ocean and impose new protections on the oil reserve. The proposed Willow Project lies within the reservation, a century-old designation the size of Indiana. About half of the reserve is off-limits to oil and gas leasing under an Obama-era rule reinstated by the Biden administration last year.

Areas to be protected include Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Highlands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas, the official said.

in 2015, president barack obama halted exploration in the coastal areas of the beaufort and chukchi seas, then withdrew most other potential lease areas from the arctic ocean: about 98 percent of the continental shelf outer arctic. The bans were intended to protect polar bears, walruses, ice seals, and Alaska Native villages that depend on the animals.

The administration received an offer in December for the right to drill offshore for oil and gas in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

It was unclear whether the latest announcement would appease environmentalists, particularly youth activists who have flooded social media with criticism of the willow project, if the administration finally announces that it will allow the willow project to move forward.

Willow would be the largest new oil field in Alaska in decades, producing up to 180,000 barrels per day, according to ConocoPhillips.

Related Articles

Back to top button