ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project and the Alaska economy in general was dealt a blow by the Biden Administration on Monday, when Biden refused to appeal a federal district court decision that halted the Willow Master Development Plan in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.
A year ago, the Trump Administration’s Department of the Interior signed a record of decision on the final environmental impact statement for the proposed Willow Project. But then the election happened, and Joe Biden became president. Environmental groups sued over the decision.
In August of 2021, federal Judge Sharon Gleason handed a victory to environmentalists when she voided the approval of Willow. She said BLM failed to analyze the impact of greenhouse emissions.
The Biden Administration could have appealed that ruling and President Joe Biden has in recent months said that he would allow Willow to be developed, but the administration didn’t file an appeal by the Monday deadline.
Willow would have provided 160,000 barrels per day to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and would have given a more than 32 percent boost to the throughput in the pipeline, which is averaging less than 500,000 barrels per day currently.
Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity hailed the Biden Administration for deciding to not appeal the lower court decision.
Hallie Templeton, legal director for Friends of the Earth, said, “We urge federal officials to go further and stop new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters, in the Arctic and beyond.”
Missing the deadline for appealing the Gleason decision means the Bureau of Land Management will need to address the climate change issues brought forward by Gleason, and other issues, such as the impact on polar bears.