Earthjustice Responds to Biden Administration Decision Advancing ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project

Oil-and-gas drilling plan would transform irreplaceable Arctic ecosystem into a carbon bomb


Jackson Chiappinelli (Eastern time zone),, (585) 402-2005

Becca Bowe (Pacific time zone),, (415) 217-2093

The U.S. Department of Interior released a final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) today, moving one step closer to approving ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow project, despite environmentalists’ warnings that the climate cannot sustain the greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated from this oil-and-gas drilling operation.

Willow would bring at least 219 wells, 267 miles of pipelines, and 30 miles of roads to a vast public lands area in Alaska’s Western Arctic, permanently altering a globally significant and ecologically rich landscape. Earthjustice and others — including the City and Native Village of Nuiqsut — have raised concerns that the sprawling fossil-fuel project will pollute the air and water, disrupt animal migration patterns, erode habitat, harm subsistence practices, and emit an estimated 280 million metric tons of climate pollution over the next 30 years. Willow will also open the gates to future oil and gas development for decades to come.

The Biden administration acknowledges that it has substantial concerns about the project, including its greenhouse gas emissions and impacts to wildlife and Alaska Native people, and its own findings in the SEIS make clear that the Willow project’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions would be incompatible with the President’s climate goals, and the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

The administration has recognized that it can still select the no action alternative in a final decision, and we urge it to do so.

Earthjustice attorney Jeremy Lieb, who has led legal challenges against Willow on behalf of clients, issued the following statement in response:

“This would be the largest single oil drilling project proposed anywhere in the U.S., and it is drastically out of step with the Biden administration’s goals to slash climate pollution and transition to clean energy. Biden will be remembered for what he did to tackle the climate crisis, and as things stand today, it’s not too late for him to step up and pull the plug on this carbon bomb.”

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