While this administration has made it significantly harder to produce energy here in the United States, this week it seems the federal government is taking a step to support our energy security. In an announcement yesterday, the Biden administration recently released a much-anticipated study that recommends allowing a major oil development on Alaska’s North Slope. Unfortunately when it comes to this administration, there is always some level of bad news. The Department of Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Land Management, released a separate statement after the report, citing “substantial concerns,” about the project.
ConocoPhillips Alaska has proposed five drilling sites as part of their Willow project and the Bureau of Land Management’s preferred alternative calls for three sites initially. Leveraging Alaska’s petroleum-rich North Slope, ConocoPhillips has said that the project would produce an estimated 180,000 barrels of oil a day.
Similarly, the company estimates the project would create 2,000 jobs during construction, 300 permanent jobs and roughly $8 billion to $17 billion in federal, state and local revenue.
Though no final decision has been made, opponents have raised concerns regarding the impacts of the project on Alaskan wildlife, as well as the implications that allowing the plan to proceed has on President Biden’s campaign climate change pledges.
An Alaskan native corporation, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, praised the 3-drill site alternative in a joint statement, calling on the administration to move forward with the plan. They said the project “is critical for domestic energy independence, job security for Alaskans and the right of Alaska Natives to choose their own path.” Though these native Alaskan groups support the advancement of the project, other native groups have opposed it.
The proposed project would be a significant step towards utilizing our abundant natural resources to secure our energy independence. Not only would it create numerous well-paying jobs, but it would benefit the Alaskan economy considerably. No decision on the project is expected until March.