Alaska Delegation Condemns Court Ruling on Alaska’s North Slope Willow Project
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, released the following statements in response to an Order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska scraping an essential permit for the Willow Project, a multi-billion dollar expansion of ConocoPhillips’s oil and gas operations in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The Willow Project was approved only after years of analysis and public input, including a robust environmental impact statement to ensure the project meets the highest environmental standards. Willow is estimated to provide more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production, $10 billion in revenue for state, local, and federal governments during its lifespan, 2,000 construction jobs, and 300 permanent jobs.
“This District Court Order vacating key approvals and permits for Willow is just plain wrong.” said Senator Murkowski. “In partnership with communities on the North Slope, ConocoPhillips Alaska has been responsibly producing oil from the NPR-A region for decades under the highest environmental standards and this proposed project will be no different. Although this is a setback for Willow, it is not the end. Even the Biden administration has come to understand what Alaskans have always known—that the Willow Project must move forward.”
“Yet again another devastating decision by this federal judge that promotes the interests of Lower 48 radical environmental groups waging their unrelenting war on Alaska’s economy, working families, and Native communities. This decision won’t do one thing to help the environment. To the contrary, it further delays one of Alaska’s most strategic energy development projects, which will benefit our adversaries that produce oil, like Russia, Venezuela and Iran, whose environmental standards are some of the worst in the world,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Biden Administration needs to keep its commitment to the Alaskan people by continuing to defend the Willow project in court for the sake of American energy.”
“Let me be very clear: Judge Gleason’s decision is terrible for Alaska, our energy sector, and the countless families it supports. The Willow Project has immense potential for our state, and in the wake of the economic damage caused by the pandemic, we need it now more than ever. Alaskans have been responsibly developing our resources for decades; we do it right. Willow’s extreme opponents wrongly believe this decision is good for the environment. On the contrary, if we are not developing resources here at home, countries with far lower environmental standards like Russia and Venezuela will,” said Congressman Young. “Earlier this year, President Biden committed to defending the Willow Project in court. As this case proceeds, I ask him to keep his word and to stand with the people of our great state.”
The Willow Project has support from individuals and groups, like the mayors of the North Slope Borough, Utqiagvik, Wainwright, and Atqasuk, the ANCSA Regional Association, the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Trucking Association, the Associated General Contractors of Alaska, and the Alaska Maritime Agencies.
- On May 26, 2021 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief with the U.S. District Court for Alaska defending the Willow Project. After reviewing the final Record of Decision (ROD) for the Willow Master Development Plan (MDP), approved in October of 2020 by the Trump administration, for consistency with the Administration’s initial executive orders on addressing climate change, the Administration found the ROD legally sufficient. The filing followed weeks of advocacy and outreach by the Alaska Delegation to President Biden and his administration.
- On April 26, 2021 the municipal mayors of Utqiagvik, Wainwright, and Atqasuk—three communities located within the boundaries of NPR-A—wrote to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland asking her to allow the Willow MDP to move forward.
- On April 21, George Edwardson, president of the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, wrote to Secretary Haaland in support of the Willow MPD.
- On April 15, 2021 North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower Jr. and Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige wrote to Secretary Haaland urging her to allow responsible oil and gas development on federal lands in Alaska to proceed.
- On February 13, 2021 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals extended a District Court injunction of the Willow MPD, pending appeal.
- On February 1, 2021 the U.S. District Court for Alaska issued an injunction on the Willow MPD.
- On October 27, 2020, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued the ROD for the Willow MPD.
- On August 14, 2020, BLM published the final environmental impact statement for the Willow MPD.
Read the Alaska Delegation’s prior letters to the Department of the Interior about the importance of the Willow project here and here.