The BLM-managed National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska is unlike anything else in the world. Rich in resources, it is an incredible place of shallow wetlands, deep lakes, beaded streams, deep open lakes and tundra.
Source -Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management. CC SA 2.0.
The ConocoPhillips project known as Willow will be a major expansion of fossil fuel development in a sensitive part of Alaska.
The Biden administration has decided to authorize the oil project in northwest Alaska, rejecting arguments from environmental activists who insist it will exacerbate climate change, according to people familiar with the matter, WorldOil reports.
Rather than face the prospect of having a decision overturned in court, reports suggest the administration agreed to let the oil company build three pads in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the nation’s largest expanse of public land, according to a federal Record of Decision posted Monday.
“It’s a place that is critically important for the wildlife,” John D. Podesta, a top White House climate adviser, said to reporters last week at the annual Houston energy conference CERAWeek.
“From the president’s perspective, conserving the natural resources, particularly in the special areas for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, are top-of-mind issues.”
But that is not all the Biden Administration plans on doing. The New York Times is reporting that the president is also expected to announce sweeping restrictions on offshore oil leasing in the Arctic Ocean and across Alaska’s North Slope in an apparent effort to temper criticism over the Willow decision.
The Interior Department said it would issue new rules to block oil and gas leases on more than 13 million of the 23 million acres that form the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
But regardless of the additional rules and protections to be put in place, the decision to allow three pads will also allow the construction of hundreds of miles of roads and pipelines, airstrips, a gravel mine, and a large processing facility on near-pristine tundra and wetlands in the reserve.
The $8 billion Willow Project has the potential to produce more than 600 million barrels of crude over 30 years.
This means that burning all that oil could release nearly 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. On an annual basis, that would translate into 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equal to adding nearly two million cars to the roads each year.
The United States is already the second biggest polluter on the planet after China, emitting about 5.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.