(GoRealNewsNow.com) – BREAKING NEWS NOW: The Biden administration has approved the Willow oil drilling plan in Alaska, drawing criticism from environmental groups.
This decision comes just a day after the announcement of protections for over 16 million acres of land and water in the region.
The $8 billion project, led by Alaska’s leading crude oil producer, ConocoPhillips, is expected to produce 600 million barrels of oil and generate approximately 278 million metric tons of carbon emissions over 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Under the plan, ConocoPhillips will be allowed to develop three well pads in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the largest expanse of public land in the U.S., covering 23 million acres.
Environmental groups have long opposed the Willow project, arguing that it undermines the administration’s commitment to combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project’s emissions are estimated to be equivalent to the yearly production of 66 new coal-fired power plants.
On the other hand, proponents of Willow, including Alaska’s congressional delegation and some Alaska Native tribal governments and residents of Alaska’s North Slope, believe the project will create 2,500 jobs, deliver up to $17 billion in revenue 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 that proposed reducing the number of drilling sites from five to three. The Interior expressed “substantial concerns” about Willow, including its impact on local wildlife and emissions.
Additionally, ConocoPhillips will have to relinquish rights to 68,000 acres of existing leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to the government, creating a buffer from exploration and development outside the project.
Ryan Lance, the CEO of ConocoPhillips, stated that the approval of Willow was “the right decision for Alaska and our nation.”
However, climate groups have criticized the project and vowed to challenge it in court. Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, called the decision “insulting,” and Christy Goldfuss, the chief policy impact officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called it a “grievous mistake.”
In an attempt to mitigate criticism, the administration declared the Arctic Ocean off limits to oil and gas leasing and imposed regulations to protect nearly 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
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