Groundhog Day? BLM seeks public input on Willow Project environmental review — again

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 The Bureau of Land Management Alaska released its revised draft environmental review of ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow Master Development Plan in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.

The BLM prepared the draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to address problems identified by Judge Sharon Gleason when she vacated the Trump Administration’s approval of the project.

ConocoPhillips purchased the Willow Project leases in the 1990s. This draft SEIS presents a range of alternatives, including a “no action” alternative, and does not represent any final decision on the Willow Project. The BLM will make a final decision only after considering public comments on the draft SEIS and completing its analysis. 

The draft SEIS includes a corrected and expanded analysis of potential climate impacts associated with the Willow Project. This expanded climate analysis, among other things, addresses the court’s finding that the original analysis failed to consider downstream foreign emissions resulting from the consumption of oil produced by the project. 

In order to consider an alternative with modified infrastructure in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area (TLSA), the draft SEIS also includes a new alternative that would reduce the potential footprint of the proposed Willow Project by removing two of the five proposed drill sites from consideration, including eliminating the northernmost proposed drill site and associated infrastructure in the TLSA. Under this alternative, BLM expects that the company would relinquish significant lease rights in the TLSA, an ecologically important wetland that hosts thousands of birds and the Teshekpuk caribou herd, that are part of the Bear Tooth Unit and the proposed Willow Project. For purposes of providing a complete picture of potential impacts of the Willow Project, this alternative includes analysis of a fourth potential drill site that would be deferred, meaning that it would require an additional review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is not being considered for inclusion in the new alternative.  

As reflected in the draft SEIS, BLM will reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) concerning listed species, including polar bear. This consultation will include consideration of mitigation measures and updates to the range of alternatives.  

The draft SEIS was developed following a public scoping comment period as well as close coordination with eight cooperating agencies (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, North Slope Borough, State of Alaska, Native Village of Nuiqsut, and City of Nuiqsut) and external stakeholders.  

The BLM plans to hold (public health measures permitting) in-person public meetings in Utqiagvik, Anchorage and Nuiqsut, as well as three virtual public meetings. A subsistence-related hearing to receive comments on the proposed Project’s potential to impact subsistence resources and activities will also be held in Nuiqsut concurrent with the in-person public meeting. The BLM will continue to consult with potentially affected federally recognized Tribes on a government-to-government basis, and to work with Alaska Native communities to ensure their voices are heard in our decision-making process. 

The Willow Master Development Plan Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement is available at the BLM’s NEPA Register https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/109410/570 or a copy may be requested from the BLM’s State Office in Anchorage. 

Following publication in the Federal Register, the BLM will announce public meetings, subsistence-related hearings, and any other public participation activities at least 15 days in advance on the NEPA Register program page, as well as through public notices, news releases, social media posts, and/or mailings. 

The BLM encourages the public to provide comments during the 45-day comment period, particularly concerning the adequacy and accuracy of the proposed alternatives, the analysis of its respective management decisions, and any new information that would help develop the final plan. 

Kara Moriarty of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association said she is encouraged to see the Bureau of Land Management release the revised draft environmental review.

“Willow represents a near-term opportunity to help return the United States to energy independence at a time when our country desperately needs more domestic sources of oil and gas. Of course, a project the size of Willow will also boost Alaska’s economy, creating job opportunities and providing tax revenues to state, local, and federal governments. Alaskans have long supported development of our oil and gas resources. Now is the time to speak up and let the federal government know how those of us who call Alaska home feel about projects like Willow: no one cares more about protecting our environment or safely developing Alaska’s resources than Alaskans. Alaskans who want to be part of this significant step forward now have a 45-day comment period to make their voices heard,” she said.

Link to BLM’s documents: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/109410/570

18 COMMENTS

  1. Does the military have to go through this approval mess each time they pollute the planet? What a bunch of bs I hope every project in the US needs the same level of scrutiny including obummers and Bidens fences.

        • They do if they want to create a new firing range, construct new training grounds (when the construction would require a federal permit), and for a host of other activities. The Department of Defense is not exempt from federal laws and regulations. Not all activities require an EIS–some are considered under “smaller” environmental reviews based on the scope and anticipated impacts from the project.

  2. It’s just gonna get shut down by the Biden Administration. Why do they even bother? Show trial for justification?

  3. The Willow Project is a game changer for Alaska. Alaskans should elect the strongest team to get the job done. Dunleavy, Sweeney, and Murkowski plus Sullivan would touch all the bases. Mike will keep the budget in check. Tara will build support from the North Slope. And Lisa brings Manchin, Romney, and Collins on board. The Willow Project will keep the lights on as the Permanent Fund grows to over 100 Billion.

  4. Murkowski will only do what she needs to stay in power, collins, Romney, are not our friends, vote that worthless B out. And above all keep China Walker out, that SOB will take all your PFD if given a chance,

  5. I believe the resulting development with a reduced footprint will benefit both CP and the environment. With extended reach horizontal drilling and advances in technology the most sensitive environemental areas can be preserved and hydrocarbons extracted. MRAK did a good job of explaining the background, True Alaskans are for responsible development, there are plenty of non-sensitive areas to produce hydrocarbons

  6. This Kabuki theater presentation is brought to you by Biden’s puppeteers, who will then have him recite that he is actively pursuing new drilling opportunities.

  7. The most ridiculous SEIS ever written. Literally all of the changes are based on the current administrations globalism based end game. The pinnacle of this foolishness is the section titled “Social Cost of Greenhouse Gasses”. What a load of crap. They say that “oil production under Alternative xx would also result in a reduction of global oil prices and, as a result, an INCREASE IN FOREIGN OIL CONSUMPTION”.
    Does anyone remember what energy independence means? This SEIS is yet another in a long list of breaking the United States by decrees that make everything impossible to do. Every AMERICAN, US CITIZEN, AND ALASKA RESIDENT should comment on this crap as soon as possible to put a halt to this anti-American economy busting ridiculousness.

    • Literally, all of the changes are based on responding to the Court order that remanded the EIS back to BLM. It says as much in the Executive Summary.

  8. Of more Americans were aware of the shenanigan’s being played here there would be a massive backlash against the whackos who are holding responsible development at bay. This project should already be well on it’s way to producing oil, not mired in politically based and biased court battles.

  9. The state should develop it anyway what’s Biden going to do about it go to court so ignore the courts like the demos are doing now.

    • It’s on federal land, so no, the State is not going to develop it. Further, the Project belongs to ConocoPhillips, so again, the State is not going to commit billions of dollars to developing it.

      • I said should not would developer it. The states part would be to allow the oil company to drill on Alaska soil.

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