President Biden is expected to ban oil and gas leasing across the entire US territory in the Arctic Ocean, an administration official confirmed Sunday.
Biden plans to announce the new announcement on Monday, the official told CBS News. It will come during his upcoming first dayWhich will see the president in San Diego to discuss AUKUS, the nuclear submarine partnership between the US, UK and Australia. In the city where 11 people were shot dead at a dance studio in January.
The Biden administration will also announce plans to enact new rules to protect more than 13 million acres of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve from oil and gas leasing when the president unveils his Arctic drilling proclamation, administration officials said. Anticipated protections will extend to the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Highlands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas.
Taken together, both conservation actions would cover more than 16 million acres of land and water in Alaska. The administration hopes the restrictions will act as a “firewall” that will prevent future gas leasing and expansion across federal lands and waters in the U.S. Arctic Ocean and on Alaska’s North Slope, an area rich in petroleum and currently at the center of a growing national debate, the official said.
AP, ConocoPhillips via file
Drilling regulations will be unveiled as climate activists wait for Biden to issue a decisionWhich is coming soon, said the administrative officer. The project, promoted by petroleum refining company ConocoPhillips, would allow drilling across a federal oil reserve called the Willow Oil Field on Alaska’s North Slope. According to ConocoPhillips, the Willow project could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day, about 1.5% of total US oil production.
There is bipartisan support for the Willow project, The Associated Press reported last week, with some indigenous groups in the area also supporting the proposed drilling plan for its potential economic benefits. While ConocoPhillips originally proposed five drilling sites in the Willow oil field, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in February that reducing that number to three sites would be a “preferred option.”
Still, the proposed drilling project has drawn criticism from environmental advocates, whose concerns over how the willow project could increase carbon emissions and contribute to ongoing climate change fueled a viral social media trend, #StopWillow, last week.
Climate advocates argue that even three drilling sites would produce an estimated 278 million tons of greenhouse gases over 30 years, which is ConocoPhillips’ proposed timeline for the Willow project. Those emissions would be roughly the same amount produced by two million cars at the same time.