HomeTop StoriesBiden announces Arctic Ocean protection as controversial oil project weighs in

Biden announces Arctic Ocean protection as controversial oil project weighs in

President Biden is expected to ban oil and gas leasing throughout the United States’ territory in the Arctic Ocean, a government official confirmed on Sunday.

Biden plans to release the new statement Monday, the official told CBS News. It will come during the first day of His coming trip to Californiawhere the President will visit San Diego to discuss AUKUS, the nuclear submarine partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, before travel to Monterey Park to discuss gun violence in the city where 11 people were shot dead in a dance studio in January.

The Biden administration will also announce its plans to issue new rules protecting more than 13 million acres in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve from oil and gas leasing when the president unveils his Arctic drilling statement, the administration official said. Expected protection will extend to Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Highlands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas.

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Together, the areas covered by both conservation actions encompass more than 16 million acres of land and water in Alaska. The government hopes these restrictions will serve as a “wall of fire” blocking future gas leasing and expansion across federal lands and waters in the US Arctic Ocean and on the North Slope of Alaska, the official said, a region rich in petroleum. and currently the focus of a growing national controversy.

CORRECTION Biden Drilling
This 2019 aerial image provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope.

ConocoPhillips via AP, file

Drilling regulations will be revealed as climate activists wait for Biden to make a decision on the Willow project, which the administration said is coming soon. Introduced by petroleum refinery company ConocoPhillips, the project would allow drilling in a federal oil reserve in Alaska’s North Slope called the Willow Oil Field. According to ConocoPhillips, the Willow project could yield up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day, representing about 1.5% of total US oil production.

There is bipartisan support for the Willow project, the Associated Press reported last week, adding that some indigenous groups in the area also support the proposed drilling plan because of its potential economic benefits. While ConocoPhillips originally proposed five drilling sites in the Willow oil field, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in February that reducing that number to three sites would be a “preferred alternative.”

Still, the proposed drilling project has come under fire from environmentalists, whose concerns about how the Willow project could drive up carbon emissions and contribute to ongoing climate change led to a viral social media trend last week, #StopWillow.

Climate advocates argue that even three drilling sites would produce an estimated 278 million tons of greenhouse gases over the course of 30 years, which is ConocoPhillips’ proposed timeline for the Willow project. That volume of emissions is about the same amount that two million cars would generate in the same period.

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