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Alaskan Oil Project Moves Ahead

A federal judge has upheld U.S. approvals for ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil-and-gas drilling project in Alaska, according to Reuters (subscription).

What’s going on: Last Thursday, “U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmental and indigenous groups challenging the $8 billion project’s approvals, which the U.S. Interior Department had issued in March.”

  • The groups say the government has not fully assessed how emissions from the project—which underwent years of environmental analysis and regulatory review before being given the green light by the Biden administration—would affect the climate or endangered species.

What it means: ConocoPhillips may now “construct three drill pads, 25.8 miles of gravel roads, an air strip and hundreds of miles of ice roads.”

Why it’s important: Willow could generate between $8 billion and $17 billion in new revenue for Alaska, the federal government and local communities, the Bureau of Land Management has said.

  • It is also expected to create 300 permanent jobs and as many as 2,500 jobs during construction, according to ConocoPhillips. 

The last word: “The Willow project highlights the need for judicial review,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris said. “Protracted legal battles make it more difficult for manufacturers to expand their capabilities and deliver on many of our national goals, such as reducing the country’s carbon footprint and strengthening our energy security.”

  • “The NAM has strongly urged Congress to reform the permitting process, including setting a stricter statute of limitations on filing court challenges to permits and requiring an expedited final judgement to avoid endless litigation and getting manufacturers back to doing what they do best.”  
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