The Biden administration announced a drilling ban on several million acres of land and ocean in Alaska Sunday, ahead of the administration’s expected approval of a massive drilling project in the state Monday, according to several reports.
The administration’s new rule would bar the sale of future oil drilling leases on three million acres of the Beaufort Sea and 13 million acres across the Natural Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), blocking future access to more than half of the 23 million acres set aside for oil exploration, according to the Associated Press. The White House is expected to approve ConocoPhillips’ $8 billion Willow project, also situated on the NPR-A, over the objections of green activists, according to multiple reports. (RELATED: Biden-Aligned ‘Propagandists’ Use China-Owned TikTok To Run Viral Campaign Against American Energy)
The White House had few options to directly limit the scope of the Willow project, since oil firm ConocoPhillips held leases for the project since 1999, a Biden administration official told Bloomberg. The administration views the rules barring future leases as a “firewall” to prevent future oil and gas investments in the arctic, the official said.
“We stand with the millions of climate allies who are speaking out against Willow’s unacceptable climate threats, and we will carry this momentum forward. We will not back down until the Arctic is protected, once and for all.”
— Alaska Wilderness League (@alaskawild) March 12, 2023
Environmentalists have opposed Willow, and while they largely hailed the administration’s proposal, they stressed that it did not offset the harms that would be caused by the Willow project, according to Bloomberg.
“These unparalleled protections for Alaskan landscapes and waters are the right decision at the right time, and we thank the Biden Administration for taking this significant step,” Athan Manuel, Lands Protection Program Director at the Sierra Club, said in a press release Sunday. “However, the benefits of these protections can be undone just as quickly by approval of oil and gas projects on public lands, and right now, no proposal poses a bigger threat to lands, wildlife, communities, and our climate than ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. Oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters must end — full stop.”
Willow has received strong bipartisan support from Alaskan lawmakers, which the company estimates will generate $8 billion to $17 billion in revenue for federal, state and local governments. The project is “one of the biggest, most important resource development projects in our state’s history,” Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said, according to the AP.
The Department of the Interior did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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