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Press Release | March 13, 2023

RELEASE: Biden Betrays Campaign Promises And His Own Interior Department By Approving Willow Project

Climate and EnvironmentExecutive Branch
RELEASE: Biden Betrays Campaign Promises And His Own Interior Department By Approving Willow Project


Contact: Dorothy Slater, [email protected]

Biden Betrays Campaign Promises And His Own Interior Department By Approving Willow Project

In response to the U.S. Department of the Interior approving three drilling pads to allow the controversial Willow Project to advance, Revolving Door Project Climate Research Director Dorothy Slater released the following statement:

“President Biden made a promise to voters on the campaign trail in 2020 — ‘No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.’ The Willow Project in Alaska is the largest oil extraction project ever proposed on federal lands. This project’s 278 million metric tons of emissions will be equal to the emissions of 76 coal plants. Biden’s green light for this drilling project, which his own Interior Department had ‘substantial concerns’ about, is political and cowardly. And last minute half-measures to conserve other areas of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean are insulting in the face of a betrayal of this magnitude. ”

“The administration apparently concluded it doesn’t have the legal authority to deny permits to ConocoPhillips and, rather than fighting a potential lawsuit, prematurely made the decision they thought courts might insist on. This weak-hearted capitulation to corporate interests is also a historic abnegation of responsibility. The Interior Department does in fact have the legal authority to deny permits for a project that they have substantial concerns about. If the case did go to court, the administration could leverage the significant resources of the Justice Department to defend their decision stridently, using every tool in their arsenal to protect the Arctic wilderness and give us a fighting chance to avoid the worst of climate change. Simply what is executive power for, if not protecting the future of this planet?” 

“Biden and the fossil fuel-friendly advisers who have his ear are choosing to actively perpetuate massive harm to Alaska ecosystems and our shared atmosphere. ConocoPhillips, faced with the reality of melting permafrost, plans to artificially cool the ground so it can drill for oil that will further heat the planet. The infrastructure needed for the project will fragment delicate Alaska Arctic ecosystems. People living nearby will be made victims of the inevitable human health hazards associated with leaks and transportation emissions.”

“News media has repeatedly cited support from Alaska Natives for the project, who have expressed that the jobs and revenue from the project are necessary to fund basic services for residents. But there is serious resistance from at least 38 Indigenous led organizations and the neighboring Native village of Nuiqsut, who say the process for public input has been inadequate and that the project threatens their way of life. A functioning country with a visionary president would realize alternative paths to fund basic services that didn’t rely on a poisonous fossil fuel project with huge anticipated costs to people and planet.”

“We are also extremely disappointed that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland allowed this decision to move forward. As a member of Congress, Haaland was unshakable in her opposition to fracking and drilling on public lands. A project of this magnitude is worth resigning over rather than rubber stamping.”

“We urge the Biden Administration to reverse course and to embody its legal authority and act with courage in the face of future lawsuits attempting to prevent this catastrophic project from becoming reality.”


Image credit: jasonwoodhead23. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Climate and EnvironmentExecutive Branch

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