Biden administration backs Alaska oil project approved under Trump

The Willow project, which consists of five wells that could collectively produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day, would be one of the first large new oil projects in Alaska in years. The development would include a new gravel mine, airstrip, more than 570 miles of ice roads, and nearly 320 miles of pipeline to the Alaskan countryside. The Justice Department defended the Trump-era decision to authorize the project in a lawsuit in the US District Court of Alaska, against claims by environmental groups that Interior had failed to adequately assess the project’s environmental impact.

Both Alaska Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan and Murkowski discussed the project during an Oval Office meeting with Biden on Monday. Sullivan said he left information about the project and Biden promised to get in touch with him shortly.

“I have spoken extensively with the President about the Willow Project,” Sullivan told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I said to him,” It wasn’t controversial until you took a break. “

Murkowski informed POLITICO that an engagement to the Biden administration officials had taken place since that meeting “Very productive” – ​​a phrase she repeated three times for emphasis.

Biden was receptive to the project, Murkowski said, and she said she told him Alaskan lawmakers had informed “almost everyone in your cabinet and every senior adviser who would listen”.

In a court case late Wednesday, the Biden administration argued that those contesting the permit were “searching” the records of the federal agencies involved in the decision-making process and demanding that their “claims be denied”.

“Indeed, the agencies have done an in-depth study of the impact of the Willow project, including the impact of the alternative proposed water crossings and the impact of the construction of gravel roads and other infrastructure,” government lawyers wrote on the file. “The analysis did not suffer from the lack of specific project information.”

The measures taken by the government in court are also noteworthy, as Haaland and four House Democrats in a letter from May 2020 called on the Trump administration to suspend “further measures” for the project and to warn of the “harmful effects this development will have on the unique environment could have and subsistence levels in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (reserve). “

The state of Alaska requested action on the case in February after the 9th District Court of Appeals ruled that ConocoPhillips must stop winter work on the property.

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