Biden administration greenlights controversial Willow oil project in Alaska

Biden administration greenlights controversial Willow oil project in Alaska

The Biden administration is approving a scaled-back version ConocoPhillips' COP.N $7 billion oil and gas drilling project in Alaska, the US Department of Interior said on Monday.

The decision comes despite an aggressive eleventh-hour campaign from opponents who say the development of the three drill sites in northwestern Alaska conflicts with Biden's highly publicized efforts to fight climate change and rapidly shift to cleaner sources of energy.

The fate of the project has been closely watched by Alaska officials, the oil and gas industry and green groups as President Joe Biden seeks to balance his goals of decarbonizing the US economy with calls to increase domestic fuel supplies to keep prices low.

ConocoPhillips had sought to build up to five drill sites, dozens of miles of roads, seven bridges and pipelines.

The Interior Department approved the project with three drill pads after saying last month that it was concerned about the greenhouse gas impacts of Willow.

Its Bureau of Land Management last month recommended a "preferred alternative" that includes three drill sites and less surface infrastructure than originally proposed.

The department on Monday said it reduced the size of ConocoPhillips' proposal by 40% by denying two requested drill pads that would reduce the project’s freshwater use and prevent the development of 11 miles of roads, 20 miles of pipelines, and 133 acres of gravel.

The decision comes after the Biden administration on Sunday announced new protections for Alaskan land and water.


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