Biden administration backs Trump approval of major Alaska drilling project

Biden administration backs Trump approval of major Alaska drilling project
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The Biden administration says in a new court filing it is standing behind the Trump administration’s approval of a massive drilling project in Alaska.

In a court filing on Wednesday, the new administration defended the approval of the Willow Project, which could extract 100,000 barrels of oil per day from Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. 

It argued that the environmental and indigenous groups challenging the project are trying to stop the project by “cherry-picking” records of federal agencies to suggest their analyses violate environmental laws.

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“To the contrary, Federal Defendants complied with the requirements of these statutes and other applicable legal requirements, and Plaintiffs’ claims should be rejected,” the legal brief stated. 

The ConocoPhillips project itself faces concerns over climate vulnerability, and the company plans to use “chillers” to help the ground stay frozen amid drilling operations. 

Green and Indigenous groups sued the government in an attempt to block the project, arguing that the government didn’t adequately assess its environmental impacts. 

They fumed over the Biden administration’s backing of the project on Wednesday. 

“The Biden administration had a chance to stand with Indigenous communities in how it responded to our lawsuit, and to stop a project that will further harm our people and our climate, but they chose not to take that opportunity," Siqiñiq Maupin, director of Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, said in a statement. 

"This is especially disappointing coming from a president who promised to do better, but we're not backing down and we will see them in court,” Maupin added.