Pitcher of cold water for the fight against climate change in the world’s largest economy. The Government of Washington this Monday approved an important oil project in northern Alaska by the American company ConocoPhillips, announced the Department of the Interior, which manages federal lands in the country. The measure is a setback for environmental groups, which in recent months have encouraged a more…

Sign up to continue reading

Read without limits

Pitcher of cold water for the fight against climate change in the world’s largest economy. The Government of Washington this Monday approved an important oil project in northern Alaska by the American company ConocoPhillips, announced the Department of the Interior, which manages federal lands in the country. The measure is a setback for environmental groups, which in recent months have promoted a massive campaign against the operation to prevent contamination of one of the last virgin areas in the United States.

the so called willow project, which is reduced to three drilling areas from the five initially requested by the company, will occupy an area known as the National Petroleum Reserve, on state land located in northwest Alaska, containing about 600 million barrels of crude oil. President Joe Biden, who came to the White House vowing not to allow new oil and gas drilling on federal land, backtracked, though he did announce additional environmental protection for a vast swath of the reserve. In addition, the White House has announced that it will permanently ban prospecting and drilling in a large area of ​​the Arctic Ocean that borders the reserve.

The defenders of willow project they see the initiative as a great source of employment, as well as an important contribution to the country’s energy independence, a strategic asset that gained importance due to the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis resulting from the Russian invasion. But environmental groups argue that oil production in the area will seriously set back the fight against climate change.

“Willow will be one of the largest oil and gas developments on federal public lands in the US,” the organization Sierra Club said on Monday. In a statement published on its website, it details: “[El proyecto Willow] It will allow for the drilling of more than 200 new wells and will produce around 278 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over a 30-year period. This is the largest proposed oil and gas exploration project in federal territory. Environmental groups call it carbon bomb and they argue that this would undo much of the progress the government has made in meeting its climate targets.” The Biden administration returned to the Paris Agreement after Republican Donald Trump withdrew from it.

The repeated release of millions of barrels of strategic oil reserves to contain the rise in fuel prices, which have contributed so much to fueling inflation in 2022, has been one of the measures of the Democratic government, caught between its climate agenda and its fight against inflation. . President Biden, who is committed to the green economy in several of his stellar laws such as the Inflation Reduction Act, has been forced to backtrack in the past, as this past April when his administration leased public land again to encourage oil production. and fighting inflation, at the highest level since the 1980s. But the Alaskan wilderness, one of the last untouched parts of the country, is a red line for environmental organizations. “The carbon pollution it will emit into the air will have devastating effects on populations, wildlife and the climate, and we will suffer the consequences for decades”, says the Sierra Club.

Map of the Alaska National Reserve, with oil exploration and protection areas.Associated Press

Information is the first tool against climate change. Subscribe to it.

subscribe

The mobilization against willow project It has gained public attention in recent weeks thanks to social media, especially the micro-video platform TikTok, while an online signature collection campaign has garnered more than 3.2 million signatures. The White House also received more than a million letters against the initiative. Because the battle around the project has been going on for years. Initially approved by the administration of Donald Trump, a judge temporarily suspended ConocoPhillips’ plans in 2021, subjecting them to a new assessment by the federal government, which in June of that year established a moratorium. A month ago, the Territory Management Office published the environmental analysis of the project, reducing the exploration zones to three, instead of the five planned by the company, with an approximate number of 219 wells. This alternative project of the Democratic Administration will assume the production of 576 million barrels of oil in 30 years, according to cabinet estimates. Also the emission of 9.2 million tons of CO2 per year, that is, 0.1% of greenhouse gas emissions in the USA in 2019.

In April 2021, newly arrived at the White House, Biden promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 50% and 52% in 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The goal, which is part of the Paris Agreement, drives the world’s largest economy to achieve emissions neutrality by 2050. The president’s climate agenda suffered a setback last June, with a Supreme Court decision limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

You can follow CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT at Facebook It is twitteror register here to receive our weekly newsletter