Willow decision: Will Biden fumble the ball?

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Next week, the Biden Administration is expected to announce one of the most important decisions for the economic viability of Alaska: Will the Department of Interior allow the ConocoPhillips project known as Willow to develop an oil field in the northeastern corner of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska?

The final supplemental environmental impact statement was released on Feb. 6, which means the Administration can announce its final decision 30 days later. Must Read Alaska sources say the decision is probably not going to be announced this week, for scheduling reasons, but could be revealed by mid-March.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has expressed concerns about the carbon impact of the Willow project, even though the Bureau of Land Management, a division of the department, recommends the three-drilling-pad option called “Alternative E.” That was a reduction from the ConocoPhillips proposal, but still economically viable. Haaland was signaling that she is in the “not inclined to approve” camp.

The Biden Administration could, at its discretion, OK just one or two drilling pads, and thus make the entire project uneconomic. However, it would be unusual for President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and the Interior Department to select a different alternative than the one proposed by one of its own agencies.

Last week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, speaking to the Alaska Legislature, took a cautious approach on Willow. She seemed to be trying to lower the expectations of Alaskans for an expected Record of Decision that would be adverse to the state.

If the decision goes against ConocoPhillips and Alaska, then it’s because politics took precedence over the scientific process, Murkowski told the Legislature.

While Congress has been out for the past two weeks, Environmentalists have been swarming Washington, where they have a lot of friends in the various agencies that will meet with them at the drop of a hat. Much of the Department of Interior is run by Biden appointees brought over from organizations such as EarthJustice, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society. Environmentalists from nonprofits now run the Interior Department as an extension of their work outside of government — they cycle in and out of these jobs depending on who is in the White House, going from the environmental nongovernmental organizations back into government and then back again to the ENGOs.

These environmentalists call the Willow Project a “carbon bomb” and say all the work they have done to take down petroleum development would be undone by this one project, which would undo the Biden progress on their climate goals.

Rep. Mary Peltola of Alaska has tried to play to the environmentalists by calling the Willow Project “gap oil,” a way to fill our energy needs until America can get to a 100% renewable energy future.

ConocoPhillips first acquired the Willow leases from the federal government in 1999. After nearly two decades, the project was announced by ConocoPhillips in 2017 and the permitting process began in 2018.

At its peak production, Willow is estimated to produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day to strengthen America’s energy security, with 600 million barrels of oil equivalent over the life of the project. It’s still a modest amount, considering that about 500,000 barrels a day now flows through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System

Willow is expected to create as many as 2,500 jobs during construction and 300 permanent jobs. The Bureau of Land Management says that Willow could bring between $8 billion and $17 billion in new revenue for the federal government, the State of Alaska, the North Slope Borough, and communities in and around NPR-A.

It’s been a long time coming for Alaska, which hasn’t seen a project this big in 20 years. ConocoPhillips acquired the first Willow-area leases in 1999 and began the development permitting process in 2018. The project, which has spanned five presidential administrations, has had more than 215 days of public comments, 25 public meetings, and has survived various lawsuits from environmental groups — some of which have people now running the Department of Interior.

Willow, proponents argue, is the most environmentally friendly oil project on the planet. Oil from Venezuela is 18 times dirtier than an average American oil project, and yet the Biden Administration is allowing 100,000 barrels per day to be shipped from Venezuela to the United States. chevron is now shipping 100K a day from Venezuela to the u.s. the willow project is 180,000 a day. the truth is, if they don’t pass the project.

March is the month when Alaska will learn if the Biden Administration will honor the 49th State’s economy, or will continue to suppress it, in favor of the Green New Deal promises made by the administration to the environmental industry lobbyists and campaign bundlers.

15 COMMENTS

  1. You’re asking this question? We’re talking the most radical, corrupt, senile president ever.
    He can’t help but scree it up.

    • I wonder what you will find to criticize in the decision when he announces approval. It will certainly be something…

  2. Odds are not on Alaska’s side if ConocoPhillips doesnt at least install Joey’s son Hunter as a board member so Papa Joey can reap his 10% for being “the BIG GUY”! Joey really put some thought into naming him appropriately as the grifting continues with his crack binge painting projects harvesting such handsome six figure $$$$$$. My Son is continually hounding me to buy him a “HUNTER BIDEN” paint set so he can bypass college and get in on the high dollar art before Hunter floods the market with his Rembrandt Paintings.

  3. If anyone out there is has access to upper level Conoco management team you might want to inform them of Burisma’s strategy. Uncle Joe will likely poop his pants when he finds out Hunter is on the board of directors and the project will be approved and backdated to last year just to get the cash flowing.

  4. May want to include Uncle Jim in on the deal to make it a family affair so he wont get jealous. I am sure he would qualify as “expert” on any deal that involves lots of cash.

  5. Alaska has a chance the Willow Field will be developed. Our Congressional group checks all the appropriate squares. Elections make a difference. Hopefully common sense will rule the day.

  6. He stumbles up stairs so yes he could fumble the ball. It’s not him as much as the puppet master pulling the strings. Remember it’s all about money and power. So if he can make a buck he will say yes.

  7. Hilarious, our congressional group checks all the appropriate squares. Only if it benefits their pockets or it is election season. None of them care if this goes through or not

  8. The Willow project will never get off the ground. They’ll just delay and delay and it will die on the vine. This way Biden and his handlers can deflect blame and place it elsewhere, probably on Trump. The sad thing is that when Biden first took office and shut everything down, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan did nothing. Murkowski takes the free funny money and now thinks she can bring in an oil deal? Nope, America last.

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