The Biden administration approved an $8 billion oil-drilling project on Monday, despite relentless pushback from environmental groups.
ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project was approved by the Department of the Interior this week, permitting the oil company to drill on three of the five proposed sites in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
According to the company, the project is forecasted to generate up to 180,000 barrels of oil daily and $17 billion in revenue for the federal and local governments and Alaskan communities.
The Willow Project will create 300 long-term jobs, while the site’s construction is anticipated to create 2,500 jobs. The construction will include 250 wells, several pipelines, a processing plant, an airport, and a gravel mine.
Two other drilling sites proposed by ConocoPhillips were rejected by the Bureau of Land Management. The company also relinquished 68,000 acres of drilling rights for a separate project.
According to the DOI, the rejection of the other two sites “substantially reduc[ed] the size of the project” and, therefore, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Record of Decision denies two of the five drill site pads proposed by ConocoPhillips, reducing the project’s drill pads by 40 percent,” the DOI stated. “The concurrent relinquishment of 68,000 acres by the company of its existing northernmost and southernmost leases within the Bear Tooth Unit reduces the Bear Tooth Unit’s footprint in the NPR-A by one-third.”
“This reduces the project’s freshwater use and eliminates all infrastructure related to the two rejected drill sites, including approximately 11 miles of roads, 20 miles of pipelines, and 133 acres of gravel, all of which reduces potential impacts to caribou migration and subsistence users.”
A viral social media campaign backed by a dark money environmental group urged Twitter and TikTok users to pressure the administration to halt the project. Critics slammed the Willow Project as a “carbon bomb.”
Karlin Nageak Itchoak, the senior regional director at the non-profit Wilderness Society, claimed, “Willow is a carbon bomb that cannot be allowed to explode in the Arctic,” the Guardian reported.
The Willow Project was initially approved under the Trump administration and then reversed by a federal judge, who ruled that the site needed an additional environmental review.
The drilling project received support from the Alaska Federation of Natives, labor unions, and the state’s legislature and congressional delegation.
In an effort to appease critics, ahead of the Willow Project approval, the Biden administration’s DOI announced that another 16 million acres of federal land and water in Alaska would be protected from future drilling projects.
A former senior Bureau of Land Management official told Fox News Digital that the DOI’s decision to ban drilling was “totally political.”
“It’s a totally political decision, it’s not based on science, it’s not based on climate change, it’s not based on biological resources,” the former official stated. “They’re pandering solely for political purposes and not paying attention to the science.”
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