In the wake of a significant legal victory halting a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, the Department of the Interior announced Feb. 3 that it will solicit public input on another key fossil fuel project, the largest single oil and gas drilling operation currently proposed on federal lands. From now until March 9, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will accept public comments on ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, slated for the Western Arctic in Alaska. Willow would result in some 250 million metric tons of CO2 emissions — an enormous contribution from a single project. Originally approved by the Trump administration, the Biden administration is currently reconsidering the project following an August federal court decision that vacated the Trump approval for its failure to assess the project’s climate impacts.
In reaction to this welcome news of a public comment opportunity, Earthjustice attorney Jeremy Lieb released the following statement:
“We take it as a hopeful sign that the administration has decided to slow down and seek public input on whether to allow this enormous fossil-fuel proposal to go any farther. Given the massive scale of this project, the upcoming decision on Willow represents an inflection point between taking meaningful climate action or continuing down a very dangerous path toward a worsening climate crisis. We are grateful for the chance to comment, and we urge the administration to reject Willow and seize the opportunity to demonstrate global climate leadership.”