Alaska Delegation Issues Statement on White House Meeting
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) and U.S. Representative Mary Peltola (D-Alaska)—the three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation—today released the following statement after meeting with President Joe Biden and top members of his team to urge the reapproval of Alaska’s Willow Project.
“We met with the President and his senior advisors in the Oval Office for more than an hour yesterday afternoon. The conversation was honest and respectful, and we appreciated the President’s recognition of how critical this moment is for Alaska’s future our nation’s energy transition.
“We were united in our advocacy for the Willow Project and made the strongest possible case for it. From state and national labor voices to Alaska Native leaders—Alaskans have repeatedly made clear their strong and united support for the project, and traveled thousands of miles to share their stories as to why the Willow Project will support their communities and families.
“Now, this decision is in the hands of the President. We hope the President will listen to the voices of indigenous Alaskans who live on the North Slope, the voices of labor leaders and union workers who are ready to help build Alaska’s economy, listen to the voices of national security officials underscoring the importance of Willow for American energy security, listen to the unanimous voice of members of the Alaska Legislature, and most importantly, listen to the Alaskans whose children and communities stand to benefit from the Willow Project for generations to come.
“The President has all the information he needs to make the right decision for Alaska and for the nation, and reapprove a three-pad, economically-viable Willow Project alternative without delay.”
The Willow Project is a meticulously-planned, socially-just, and economically-crucial project that will cover 0.002% of Alaska’s petroleum reserve, which is the size of Indiana. After the Obama-Biden administration encouraged development in the petroleum reserve, the project’s proponent, ConocoPhillips, entered federal permitting and received approval for it in 2020.
After further environmental analysis over the past two years, civil servants at the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management recently recommended its re-approval with three pads; anything less would be non-viable and equivalent to a denial. The Willow Project has widespread support from the delegation; Alaska Natives, including those who live on the North Slope; state and national labor groups; many additional stakeholders, and is unanimously supported by the Alaska State Legislature.
The Biden administration’s final decision on the Willow Project is expected next week.
- On March 1, 2023, the Alaska Delegation held a press conference, joined by leaders from labor unions, Alaska Native organizations, and the State Legislature outside the United States Capitol. They spoke to the importance of reapproving the Willow Project on Alaska’s North Slope and selecting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Preferred Alternative E.
- On February 6, 2023, the BLM’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project was published in the Federal Register. BLM will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) for the project no earlier than 30 days from the date of publication. The Biden administration committed to the Alaska congressional delegation that the ROD would be issued 30 days after publication of the SEIS.
- On December 21, 2022 the Alaska congressional delegation received a commitment from the Biden administration that the FSEIS would be released by the end of January 2023 and the Record of Decision completed by the end of February 2023.
- On September 20, 2022 the Alaska delegation sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland urging the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to complete the permitting process for the Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) by the end of the year, in time for the winter construction season.
- In July 2022, BLM Alaska issued a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the Willow Project.
- On July 15, 2022, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan wrote a letter to Secretary Haaland reiterating their strong support of the Willow Project and urging the Department of the Interior to promptly approve it.
- On March 8, 2022, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and the late Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) wrote a letter to Secretary Haaland urging the Department of the Interior to expeditiously complete an SEIS and re-approve the Willow Project.
- 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 ROD for the Willow Master Development Plan (MDP), approved in October 2020 by the Trump administration, for consistency with the Biden 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 Secretary Haaland asking her to allow the Willow MDP to move forward.
- On April 21, 2021, George Edwardson, president of the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, wrote to Secretary Haaland in support of the Willow MDP.
- 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 MDP, pending appeal.
- On February 1, 2021, the U.S. District Court for Alaska issued an injunction on the Willow MDP.
- On October 27, 2020, BLM issued the ROD for the Willow MDP.
- On August 14, 2020, BLM published the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Willow MDP.