As Biden weighs Willow, he saves other areas from drilling

President Joe Biden will announce on Monday new protections against oil drilling in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean

Chris Megerian
Sunday 12 March 2023 21:09 GMT
Alaska-Oil Project-TikTok
Alaska-Oil Project-TikTok

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Louise Thomas

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President Joe Biden will prevent or limit oil drilling in 13 million acres of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, an administration official said on Sunday.

The announcement, which is expected on Monday, comes as regulators prepare to announce a final decision on the Willow project, a controversial oil drilling plan pushed by ConocoPhillips.

The official requested anonymity to discuss the conservation effort before it is officially unveiled.

The plan has two parts. First, the official said, Biden will bar drilling in nearly 3 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, closing off the rest of its federal waters from oil exploration.

Second, the administration will develop new rules for more than 13 million acres in a vast swath of land known as the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska. The official said the area includes the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas.

It's unclear whether the announcement will mollify environmentalists, particularly young activists who have flooded social media with critiques of the Willow project, if the administration ultimately announces it will allow the Willow project to move forward.

Willow would be the biggest new oil field in decades in Alaska, producing up to 180,000 barrels per day, according to ConocoPhillips.

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