(Photo by Greg A. Syverson/Getty Images)
OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 7:58 AM – Saturday, March 11, 2023
The Biden administration is expected to approve a new oil drilling project that would produce “up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day.”
In a blow to environmental activists, the Biden administration is expected to push ahead with a massive oil drilling project in northern Alaska. The 30-year project is predicted to create thousands of jobs and over 600 million barrels of oil in total.
Senior officials have reportedly approved three of the five drilling sites that have been proposed by oil company, ConocoPhillips. The company had previously claimed that for its “Willow Project” to be economically viable, the federal government needs to approve a minimum of three out of the five sites.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.) spoke with Fox News about the importance of the Willow Project, and what it presents for President Joe Biden.
“This decision on Willow is a huge test for the Biden administration on so many issues that they claim to care about,” he said. “Of course it’s critically important to Alaska, but it’s critically important to America — a project of this size when we need energy security.”
The project was originally approved by Former President Donald Trump until a federal judge halted it so that a more thorough environmental analysis could be conducted.
ConocoPhillips said the project would create more than 2,500 construction jobs, 300 long-term jobs, and approximately $17 billion in revenue for the federal government, Alaska, and the local communities. The project would require the construction of 250 new wells, multiple new pipelines, a processing plant, a new airport, and a gravel mine.
Industry Groups, lawmakers, and local communities have urged the president to approve the project for the economic benefits it would bring. On the other hand, activists claim that it would be devastating to the environment.
Opponents of the proposal say that the project would damage the environment through both the construction and the emissions produced from oil drilling, which would produce a “carbon footprint irreconcilable with the Biden administration’s broader climate agenda.”
“The Willow project is a climate disaster waiting to happen that would devastate wildlife, lands, AK communities, and our climate,” the Sierra Club tweeted in response to the proposed project. “We need to speed our transition to clean energy, not double-down on oil and gas.”
Democrat lawmakers have also been urging the president to reconsider the project. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said that if the project was to be approved it would be a “betrayal of Biden’s promise.”
“If this story is right, it’s a complete betrayal of Biden’s promise not to allow more drilling and a complete catastrophe to rein in climate chaos,” he tweeted. “You can’t ask other countries to forego their fossil fuels if we keep greenlighting projects here in America.”
If this story is right, it’s a complete betrayal of Biden’s promise not to allow more drilling and a complete catastrophe to rein in climate chaos. You can’t ask other countries to forego their fossil fuels if we keep greenlighting projects here in America. https://t.co/lJqwKyhW7e
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) March 10, 2023
The top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), said that the project is the “exact opposite of what the Biden administration stands for.”
However, Representative Mary Peltola (D-Ala.) said that the project is vital in providing a “substantial boost for the state and local communities.”
“The Willow Project has been one of my top priorities because it is deeply important to our future as a state,” Peltola said. “In the short term, this project will provide thousands of good-paying union jobs and help jump-start Alaska’s economy. In the long term, the revenues from Willow will pay for essential state services like public safety and investments in our education system.”
The Bureau of Land Management released its environmental impact findings for the project. The agency said that the project will produce a large amount of emissions, but they also concluded that the option of turning to foreign oil imports would cause an even larger carbon footprint.
The Department of the Interior is expected to publish its final decision on the Willow Project, however, the president and senior White House officials have been actively invested in overseeing the approval process.
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