“It’s insulting that Biden thinks this will change our minds about the Willow project,” said Kristen Mansell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. “It doesn’t make sense to protect one part of the Arctic when you destroy another, and that doesn’t help the people and wildlife affected by the Willow Project.”
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The decision is sure to invite legal challenges from environmental groups.
The Biden administration wants to approve permits for three drilling sites and deny two sites, including one that would have been closest to a coastal wetland known as Lake Teshekbuk, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Discuss the notification. The administration will also deny a road leading to a fourth drilling site, two of the people said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the Willow decision beyond saying on Friday that White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre had not made a final decision.
Administration officials are pushing ahead with the Willow project despite raised concerns about its environmental analysis.”Substantial concernsAbout the emissions, risk to freshwater resources and threats to migratory birds, caribou, whales and other animals that inhabit the region.
The administration has decided that ConocoPhillips, which holds a long-term lease on the petroleum reserves, has no legal authority to deny permission, according to two people familiar with the consultations.
ConocoPhillips sought five drilling sites for the project and called approval of three pads the minimum number they could accept. The company indicated it would back out if there were fewer numbers, and said the project would no longer be financially viable.
In addition to rejecting two proposed drilling sites, the administration will announce that ConocoPhillips will return about 67,000 acres of land to the government, people familiar with the decision said. The petroleum reserve, located about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is the nation’s largest natural landscape.