This week, the Biden administration abandoned yet another major oil and gas drilling project in Northern Alaska, which was a relic of the Trump era. The Northern Alaska project would have further enhanced the nation’s energy independence while simultaneously creating thousands of jobs.
Specifically, the Department of Interior ultimately declined to file an appeal of a federal district court decision earlier in the week. The court decision had blocked the Northern Alaska project, which was known as the Willow Master Development Plan. The project would have unfolded across the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, according to The Daily Caller.
The project had been developed by ConocoPhillips, a large Texas-based oil and gas firm. Slated to produce up to 160,000 additional barrels of oil on a daily basis to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, the project would have resulted in a 32 percent boost to the throughput of the pipeline. Currently, the pipeline averages under half a million barrels per day, according to Must Read Alaska.
Various summary documents associated with the project also reveal that it would have created “hundreds of direct jobs and thousands of construction jobs,” not to mention “thousands of construction jobs.” These jobs would have also provided significant revenue for the North Slope Borough, the State of Alaska, and the varied communities in the region.
Ironically, the jobs would have also created substantial tax revenue for the federal government.
While the Trump administration approved the multi-billion dollar project by the Bureau of Land Management in 2020, various environmentalist groups sued to stop the project from reaching fruition after Biden won the presidential election.
Consequently, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason violated the approval of the project in August, claiming that the bureau had not completed an adequate review of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that may result from the project. Gleason also noted that the project posed harm to wildlife.
Intriguingly, the Biden administration had initially supported the project and appeared poised to move forward in spite of the environmentalists’ demands. In addition, the project was also backed by the entire Congressional delegation from Alaska, including Trump nemesis Lisa Murkowski.
Nonetheless, the deadline to appeal Gleason’s ruling was ultimately ignored, killing the project by default.
Jeremy Lieb, who serves as a lawyer for Earthjustice, an environmental group, noted that he is highly pleased with the Biden administration for “taking positive steps in his commitment toward a cleaner energy future.”
Lieb also called for the Biden administration’s continued alignment “with climate imperatives” by protecting the region “from all new oil and gas activity.”