Juneau, Alaska — Biden Administration Approves large oil projects on oil-rich North Slope of Alaska Proponents say it represents an economic lifeline for indigenous communities in the region, but environmentalists say it runs counter to President Joe Biden’s climate goals.
ConocoPhillips Alaska’s decision on the Willow project, a federal oil reserve roughly the size of Indiana, was revealed Monday.
What is the Yanagi Project?
The company said the project could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, about 1.5% of total US oil production. Willow is currently the largest proposed oil project on public land in the United States. Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan said the development could be “one of the largest and most important resource development projects in the state’s history.”
About 498,000 barrels of oil per day have flowed through the Trans-Alaska pipeline so far this year, well below the late 1980s peak of 2.1 million barrels.
ConocoPhillips Alaska has proposed five drilling sites as part of the project. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved three, which he said included a total of 199 wells. ConocoPhillips Alaska said it welcomed Monday’s decision.
The company also agreed to relinquish approximately 68,000 acres (27,500 ha) of existing leases within the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, where Willow is located. This action has reduced the project’s freshwater use and removed two rejected landfills, including approximately 11 miles (18 kilometers) of roads, 20 miles (32 kilometers) of pipelines, and 133 acres (54 hectares) of gravel. All infrastructure associated with the drilling site will be eliminated. This will reduce the potential impact on caribou migrants and subsistence users, the U.S. Department of the Interior said.
Using oil from Willow will generate more than 263 million tons (239 million tons) of greenhouse gases over the 30-year period of the project. It cuts emissions by about 8% compared to the approach backed by Houston-based ConocoPhillips.
there is broad political support In Alaska, the bipartisan congressional delegation includes Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and state legislators.
There is also a “majority consensus” in support in the North Slope region, said Nagruk Hercharek, head of the Arctic Iñupiat Voices group. Proponents call the project balanced, saying communities will benefit from taxes generated by Willow to invest in infrastructure and provide public services.
Mayor Rosemary Attuangaruak of the city of Nuyquist, which has a community of about 525 people closest to the proposed development, is a prominent opponent worried about the caribou and its impact on subsistence living for its residents. But the opposition there is not universal. A local Alaska Native village company has expressed support.
“Today, the voices of the Alaskan people were heard,” said U.S. Representative Mary Peltra, also a Yupik Democrat. “After years of consistent and steadfast advocacy for the project from people across the state and from all walks of life, The Willow Project is finally moving forward.”
Ahtuangaruak said he felt voices like his were being drowned out.
What is Decision Politics?
Biden’s decision puts Alaskan lawmakers at odds with environmental groups and many Democrats in Congress. Halve carbon emissions that contribute to global warming by 2030 Move to clean energy. Environmentalists say the approval of the project represents a betrayal by Biden. Pledged to end new oil and gas drilling on state-owned land during 2020 campaignEnvironmental groups had called for the project to be dismissed.
Mr. Biden made the fight against climate change a top priority, accelerating the expansion of clean energy such as wind and solar power and backing landmark legislation to keep America away from oil, coal and gas.
He faces attacks from Republican lawmakers who blame him for the spike in gasoline prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Did Biden endorse the project early on?
A 2021 Justice Department attorney defended in court an environmental review conducted during the Trump administration that approved the project.later federal judge Discover flaws with analytics, pending approval and returning the issue to the land management agency for further work. That led to a review released last month that laid the groundwork for Monday’s announcement.
Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Markowski said the decision “not only means jobs and income for Alaska, but it will be a much-needed resource for the country and our friends and allies in the administration.” listened to Alaska’s delegation as they advanced their energy security and national security claims.”
What about greenhouse gas emissions?
Federal officials under former President Donald Trump argued that increased domestic oil drilling would reduce global net emissions because oil imports would fall. They argued that US companies adhered to stricter environmental standards than other countries.
After outside scientists dismissed the claims and a federal judge agreed, The interior department has changed How emissions are calculated.
The latest review under the Biden administration received backlash for including a proposal that it could offset 50% of Willow’s net emissions. tree planting Climate change on state lands was already planned by the government and was necessary to meet broader climate goals. Proposals for reforestation were excluded from the final decision.
Michael Lazarus, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, said the Willow Project “is aimed at producing oil for decades at a time when the United States needs to embark on a path of sharp reductions.” I am doing it,” he said. “I understand the political pressure the administration is under, but the science remains the same.”
What about Biden’s promise to cut oil drilling?
Biden floating oil and gas After taking office, he sold a lease and promised to review the government’s fossil fuel program.
Attorneys General of Oil-Producing States Convince Federal Judge to Lift Suspension – Ruling Later overturned By the Court of Appeal. The government finally last year’s climate lawThe bill would require tens of millions of acres of onshore and offshore leases to be put up for sale before the Department of the Interior can approve renewable energy leases.
The number of new drilling permits to companies with federal leases surged in Biden’s first year as companies stockpiled drilling rights and officials said they were working on outstanding applications from the Trump administration. Did. Approvals dropped sharply in FY2022.
The Biden administration is offering less square footage leases than previous administrations. But environmentalists say the government hasn’t done enough.
The Willow decision was one of the most significant in Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s tenure, by her lieutenant Tommy Boudreau, who grew up in Alaska and briefed state legislators about the project on Monday. Signed. Harland was particularly quiet about the project he opposed as a New Mexico legislator before becoming Secretary of the Interior.
What other measures will the administration take?
On Sunday, the administration announced that Biden would indefinitely limit future oil and gas leases on about 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of the Arctic Ocean, imposing new protections on oil reserves. A statement said the offshore withdrawal would ensure that critical habitat for whales, seals, polar bears and other wildlife would be “permanently protected from exploitation.”
The action completes protection of the entire Beaufort Sea Plan area, building on former President Barack Obama’s 2016 withdrawal of much of the Chukotka Sea Plan area and the Beaufort Sea, the White House said. said.
The Biden administration also plans to consider protecting an additional 13 million acres (5.3 million hectares) within oil reserves designated as special areas for wildlife, self-sufficiency, landscape and other values. I said yes. Details were not immediately revealed. The administration said it would make the proposed rule available for public comment in the coming months.
The Department of the Interior will limit oil and gas leasing to 11.8 million of the approximately 23 million acres (4.8 million out of 9.3 million hectares) of the Alaska National Oil Reserve in its 2022 decision, with the remaining approximately 11 million acres ( 4.5 hectares). 1 million hectares) has been leased.
Oil reserves on Alaska’s North Slope were set a century ago for future oil production.