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DAVID BLACKMON: Biden Runs For Cover After Approving Massive Alaska Oil Project

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David Blackmon David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.
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Either go all-in on the climate alarm narrative or don’t. Either prove you live in the real world in which U.S. and global demand for oil are bound to keep rising for decades to come, or buy fully into the energy transition narrative in which reality gives way to fantasy.

One way or the other, show some courage and take a stand. (RELATED: DAVID BOSSIE: Step One To Fixing America’s Border Nightmare — Show Mayorkas The Door)

This proved to be too much to ask of President Joe Biden and his regulators once again Sunday and Monday as the administration produced another example of a butt-covering compromise on ConocoPhillips’ proposed $8 billion Willow project in the Alaskan arctic region. It was a compromise based entirely on politics rather than science and energy reality, as so many of this administration’s decisions have been over its 27-month existence.

Fearing blowback from his party’s campaign funders in the climate alarm community, Biden’s Interior Department (DOI) put out a preemptory gift to it on Sunday in the form of proposed regulations that would create heavy anti-development restrictions across 13 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A), and a full withdrawal of access to 2.8 million acres of the Beaufort Sea adjacent to NPR-A.

In its release, DOI said the Beaufort Sea withdrawal “ensures this important habitat for whales, seals, polar bears, as well as for subsistence purposes, will be protected in perpetuity from extractive development.” DOI further said the 13 million acre restricted area within NPR-A “will consider additional protections for the more than 13 million acres within the reserve designated as Special Areas in recognition of their significant natural and historical values.”

“The administration intends to propose to limit future oil and gas leasing and industrial development in the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and Peard Bay Special Areas,” the statement continued, adding that the proposed regulation will “help protect subsistence uses in the NPR-A, responding to Alaska Native communities who have relied on the land, water, and wildlife to support their way of life for thousands of years.”

The latter claims seems more than little ironic, since most of the Native communities that exist in the nearby areas vocalized their support for the ConocoPhillips project, based on the promised creation of jobs and economic development it would bring. The same is true of Alaska’s congressional delegation and state government officials, virtually all of whom have urged fully approval by the administration.

In the end, though, the White House and DOI could only bring themselves to approve the project in part. Where ConocoPhillips proposes the establishment of five drilling pads in order to be able to fully develop the underground resource — estimated at 576 million barrels of recoverable oil with current technology — the administration said it would only approve three, thus ensuring millions of recoverable barrels will remain in the ground.

The Inupiat leadership of the North Slope praised the science-based Record of Decision by the DOI which enables Willow to go forward, saying the project “represents a new opportunity to ensure our indigenous, Alaska Native communities’ ten thousand years of history has a viable future. Willow is set to provide a generational investment in our people and communities, expected to generate $1.25 billion for the North Slope Borough and $2.5 billion to the NPR-A Impact Mitigation Grant Program…[and will] employ hundreds of Alaskans directly and will generate thousands of construction jobs.”

Biden and his officials had hoped the compromise moves would tamp down blowback from his climate alarmist supporters. But those hopes appeared to have come to naught, judging from public statements by some of the groups.

“Biden approved Willow knowing full well that it’ll cause massive and irreversible destruction, which is appalling,” Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Bloomberg. “New Arctic drilling makes no sense, and we’ll fight hard to keep ConocoPhillips from breaking ground.”

Abigail Dillen, head of Earthjustice, was similarly outraged despite the Biden olive branches. “We are too late in the climate crisis to approve massive oil and gas projects. We know President Biden understands the existential threat of climate, but he is approving a project that derails his own climate goals,” she said.

Thus we see that no compromise, no amount of olive branches extended by this or any other presidency will ever amount to enough to satisfy the climate alarmists.

We can only hope that Biden and his officials will come to recognize this reality sooner or later, and decide to just take a clear stand so that voters are able to make an informed decision about which approach they want to take in the 2024 elections.

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