(VitalNews.org) – Last Thursday, a federal court dismissed the objections of environmentalists and upheld the approval of an oil drilling project in Alaska signed off on by the Biden administration.
Obama-appointed Judge Sharon Gleason upheld the project’s approval. According to her ruling, adequate steps were taken by the Biden administration to determine the impact of the project on the environment after plaintiffs challenged the oil drilling.
The Willow Project was approved by the Biden administration earlier this year and allows the ConocoPhillips company to drill up to 576 million barrels of oil in the state of Alaska over the next 30 years. Following the decision, the company said they plan on moving ahead with their scheduled construction plans over the winter.
ConocoPhillips Alaska president Erec Isaacson wrote in a statement that the project “underwent” almost “five years of rigorous” reviews and analysis, which also involved “the communities closest” to the site. Isaacson added that ConocoPhillips wants “to make this project a reality” and to “help Alaskan communities realize” the benefits of developing energy responsibly.
Many environmental activists and advocates, progressive politicians, and young people have pushed back against the project. Despite the blow of Thursday’s decision, opponents of the Willow Project plan on filing an appeal. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said in a statement that they are “entirely confident in our claims” and will take their appeal to a higher court.
Grafe said aside from the “illegality” of approving the Willow Project, the initial greenlighting of the project moved the US |in the opposite direction” of its “national climate goals” as the climate crisis worsens.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration originally approved the project in 2020 but ended up sent back for more consideration during the Biden administration. According to officials, the project was approved due to legal constraints.
In March, President Joe Biden said his “strong inclination was to disapprove” of the project “across the board” but that he was advised by counsel that he could “very well lose” to the oil company, leaving him unable to do what he really wanted “to do beyond that.”
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