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Biden Interior is permitting aggressive scheme of Alaska oil drilling

March 14, 2023: -The Biden administration supported a powerful and controversial oil drilling plan in Alaska, such as Willow, just one day after revealing protections for around 16 million land and water in the area.

According to U.S. Department of the Interior estimates, the $8 billion plan, led by Alaska’s most significant crude oil producer, would produce regarding 600 million barrels of oil for more than 30 years and generate nearly 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Under the plan, ConocoPhillips will be permitted to develop three well pads from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. This 23-million-acre area is a significant expanse of public land in the U.S.

The license of Willow is one of the most consequential climate decisions of the President. The environmental firm has long condemned the plan, arguing it undermines the government’s pledge to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project’s emissions would be equivalent to what 66 new coal-fired power plants produce yearly.

Proponents of Willow, which include the state’s congressional delegation and some Alaska Native tribal and administration residents of Alaska’s North Slope, have stated that the plan would create 2,500 jobs, delivering $17 billion in earnings for the federal government and improve U.S. domestic energy security.

Before the President’s decision, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management released an environmental analysis in the previous month that proposed which lowers the number of drilling areas from five to three under the assignment. The Interior stated that it had “substantial concerns” about Willow, which include its direct and indirect emissions and its impact on local wildlife.

On Monday, in addition to lowering the number of drill sites, the Interior said that ConocoPhillips would relinquish rights regarding 68,000 acres of leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to the administration, a decision it stated that would create a buffer from exploration and in the region outside the project.

In a statement, ConocoPhillips chairman and chief executive officer Ryan Lance said the approval “was the right decision for Alaska and our nation.”

“Willow fits within the Biden government’s priorities on environmental and social justice, which facilitates the energy transition and improves our energy security, all while making good union jobs and which provides benefits to Alaska Native communities,” Lance said.

On Sunday, the administration declared the Arctic Ocean off-limits to oil and gas leasing to offset criticism regarding the project’s climate impact. It said it would also impose regulations protecting almost 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

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