White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied media rumors that the $8 billion “ticking carbon bomb” in Alaska would soon be approved, saying that anyone who claims there has been a final decision is mistaken.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied reports that US President Joe Biden would soon approve the Willow Project, saying “no final decisions” had been made on the highly controversial $8 billion ConocoPhillips oil drilling venture in northern Alaska, which has been dubbed a “climate catastrophe” by critics.
“Anyone who says there has been a final decision is wrong,” Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday evening, after Bloomberg, CNN, and The New York Times reported that the Biden administration would approve what would be the country’s single-largest oil operation.
“President Biden is delivering on the most aggressive climate agenda of any US president in history, while also spurring unprecedented growth in clean energy,” a White House spokesperson added.
Temperatures have now risen in Alaska to the point where permafrost is thawing.
As it threatens to add 280 million metric tons of climate pollution to the atmosphere with the Willow Project, ConocoPhillips has even said it may need chillers to keep the ground under Willow cold. pic.twitter.com/UDDsbC90E0
— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) March 8, 2023
Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who supports the project, told the Times that she had not been notified of its approval.
“We are not yet celebrating, not with this White House,” she stated.
Climate campaigners, Indigenous groups, environmentalists, dozens of Democratic U.S. lawmakers, and others are outraged by what has been described as a “ticking carbon bomb” and a “climate catastrophe.”
.@POTUS has the power to stop the Willow Project — let’s do this! ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/x6J0MyWvme
— Congressman Jamaal Bowman (@RepBowman) March 9, 2023
The project’s own assessment by the Biden administration acknowledges that it “would likely incur spills,” and the Interior Department has expressed “substantial concerns” about the proposal.
The Sierra Club asserts:
Willow is located in a vast Arctic landscape that provides critical habitat for birds from all over the world, as well as animals such as caribou, on which subsistence hunters rely to feed their families and communities. Native communities in the region, such as Nuiquset, are already dealing with the consequences of oil development, such as deteriorating air quality and an increase in respiratory disorders. Last year, a well in Conoco’s Alpine Field blew out, releasing methane into the air and putting Nuiquset residents in danger. These dangers are already present, and Willow exacerbates them.
Last week 3M people signed petitions to stop the Willow Project, a proposed oil pipeline that would run through Alaska. This project would represent the biggest new U.S. oil field in decades, and would disproportionately impact indigenous communities. https://t.co/cW0KFNP0KI
— Change.org (@Change) March 7, 2023
Environment America’s public lands campaign director, Len Montgomery, told Common Dreams via email that “We require long-term thinking from our leaders. Clean energy, not oil, is the way of the future.”
“It would be short-sighted to allow a brand new Arctic oil project to break ground in one of our most sensitive ecosystems,” Montgomery argued. “This project will exacerbate climate change and harm caribou and polar bears directly. We are inspired by the national outpouring of opposition to this project, and we will continue to work to prevent chillers, ice roads, and well pads from ever encroaching on this pristine area.”
Quannah Chasinghorse is an Eagle Village, Alaska-based Han Gwich’In and Sicangu/Oglala Lakota land protector, climate justice activist, and fashion model.
“We need to change the narrative that the land only exists to serve us and to extract resources from it,” Chasinghorse said. “My elders tell me that if we care for the land, it will care for us. We cannot survive in the absence of healthy land. Not only Gwich’in. Every one of us, everywhere”
“Stop the Willow Project, President Biden,” she added. “Avert climate catastrophe before it’s too late.”