On Wednesday the Biden administration took the first steps in approving an $8 billion ConocoPhillips oil drilling project on the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The project has been heavily criticized by environmentalists who argue that new fossil fuel development could have negative effects on the climate.
The Bureau of Land Management also issued an environmental analysis, which shows that the government is looking at a scaled-back version of the project, known as Willow. The assessment shows that instead of five drill sites, they should be reduced to three, as well as looking for a reduction in the proposed length of gravel and ice roads. This analysis is one of the biggest regulatory steps that the federal government needed to take before a final decision on the viability of the project could be made. If the project is approved then, around 600 million barrels of oil could be produced over 30 years. The peak is expected to be at 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Outside of the analysis the Bureau of Land Management and White House officials are officially considering what further environmental measures can be taken to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and environmental harm that project Willow could cause. Some of the current suggestions include planting vegetation and delaying the permits for at least one of the drill sites.
The final decision is expected to be made within the next month, but so far the Biden administration appears to be interested in giving the project the go-ahead.