US President Joe Biden’s administration has given the go-ahead for a major new exploration project for potential oil deposits in Alaska, prompting environmental groups to predict lawsuits.
According to government estimates, enough oil would be pumped in the area to release 9.2 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the same as if two million gasoline-powered cars were put on the road, reports CNN.
The approval is a victory for federal congressmen from Alaska and a coalition of Alaska Natives, who called the project a much-needed source of new revenue and jobs.
But it’s a major blow to environmental groups and some other indigenous groups, who oppose the project, arguing it will harm ambitious climate goals and pose health and environmental risks.
Lawsuit by environmental activists
The project sparked a protest by online activists, who sent several million letters and a petition with several million signatures to the White House in protest.
The environmental group Earthjustice is preparing a lawsuit and plans to prove that the Biden administration’s mandate to protect natural resources on Alaska’s public lands includes measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The project, which will be implemented by the oil company ConocoPhillips, has already been approved by the administration of Donald Trump, and Bidnova found that the court would not allow them to cancel the project.
Along with greenlighting Project Willow, Biden is expected to announce sweeping new protections for federally owned lands and waters in America’s northernmost state as early as today.
Biden will declare the entire Arctic Ocean area around Alaska protected from new oil or gas projects and announce new rules to protect more than 13 million acres in the said federal Alaska National Petroleum Reserve from drilling.
Environmental groups warn that this will not outweigh the damage the Willow project will cause.