The Biden administration has taken a key step forward on a controversial proposed oil drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope, angering climate advocates who say the project would release tons of emissions and doom the President’s climate goals.
The US Department of Interior released a draft environmental impact statement for the ConocoPhillips oil drilling project, known as Willow, on Friday night. The statement does not represent a final decision and includes several potential scenarios for the project, including no drilling. But it was a critical step the Biden administration needed to complete for the process to move forward – setting off alarm bells among environmental groups.
If approved and built, the project would produce 629 million barrels of oil over the course of a 30-year life span and would release between 278 million and 284 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
ConocoPhillips is proposing five drilling sites on federal land in Alaska’s North Slope, and the project would include a processing facility, pipelines to transport oil, gravel roads, at least one airstrip and a gravel mine site, the draft EIS report states.
The Biden administration has faced considerable pressure from congressional Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to spur domestic energy production to help bring down gasoline prices, though this project would take years to complete.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cheered the administration’s move and said she would “continue to hold them accountable” in hopes the project would b