Biden administration officials approved the least intensive version of an oil drilling project in Alaska on Wednesday, a move condemned by numerous climate activists.
A paper released by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management details the decision to move forward with the $8 billion Willow project by crude oil producer ConocoPhillips on three drilling sites.
Other versions of the proposal included up to five and potentially even more drilling sites, with the agency suggesting it could expand or nix the project before it’s required to issue a final decision in 30 days.
“Additional environmental analysis would be required to move forward with the deferred fourth pad, and the final record of decision may identify additional deferrals,” the BLM press release read.
“The preferred alternative reduces the proposed project’s footprint within the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area,” it continued, noting that the version “also reduces freshwater use for project activities as well as the overall length of infield pipelines, gravel, and ice roads.”
According to Interior Department estimates, the Willow project would produce nearly 600 million barrels of oil and generate about 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the next 30 years.
But environmental advocates who have aligned themselves closely with President Joe Biden feel betrayed by the BLM’s decision to go through with the project, saying it would contradict his administrative agenda.
“Our window to act is rapidly closing to avert catastrophic climate change, and this plan only takes us one giant step closer to the edge,” Alaska Wilderness League Executive Director Kristen Miller said.
“We should be prioritizing ways to preserve this irreplaceable ecosystem, by protecting critical wildlife and subsistence resources and avoiding increased climate pollution.”
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