President Biden’s administration has backed the Willow oil project in Alaska in a new filing by the Department of Justice.
“A Wednesday filing by the U.S. Department of Justice continues to defend a 2020 Record of Decision for the Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A),” the Department of the Interior told Reuters.
Politico noted in a report that the project has the support of Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, a centrist that could provide a valuable swing vote to the Democrats.
The Bureau of Land Management approved Conoco’s 160,000-bpd Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska last October. Government officials hailed the project as a job creator and a guarantee that oil will continue to flow along the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
In February, however, after the administration changed, an appeals court blocked the construction of the $2-billion, ruling in favor of environmental groups. Those groups claimed that the government had overlooked the potential impact of drilling for oil on the local ecosystems.
Now, the Department of the Interior will have to defend the Willow project in court even though Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was a vocal opponent last year, while still in Congress.
Alaska is one of the oldest oil-producing regions in the United States, but lately, production has been on a steady decline, which has prompted authorities to look for ways to reverse the decline, which has affected the state’s income.
Washington selected Conoco’s Willow plan last year. The plan will involve the construction of roads, one or two airstrips, a gravel mine, and more than 300 miles of pipelines.
The Willow project has reserves estimated at 400 to 750 million barrels of crude and will be instrumental in reversing Alaska’s declining production. Opposition from environmentalists, however, remains.