Story by Kristen Altus
As Alaska labor and political leaders plead with President Biden to approve America’s largest pending oil and gas project in his final deciding moments, the state’s governor revealed he’s expecting the White House to turn it down.
“We’re preparing for them to deny this,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” Tuesday. “And it’s sad to say that, but their idea of a compromise, apparently, is to allow only two drilling pads for this oil play called Willow, about 180,000 barrels per day at peak, instead of the three or more that really the investors, ConocoPhillips, need to have to make this thing work for everybody.”
The Willow project – currently the largest pending oil and gas plan in the U.S. – is a proposal by ConocoPhillips to develop energy resources in a small portion of what’s known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska on Alaska’s North Slope.
Alaska’s AFI-CIO labor union president pointed out on “Fox & Friends First” earlier that decades’ worth of oil is available in Alaska, noting Willow creates approximately 2,500 construction jobs. Estimates also show that between $8 to $17 billion of potential federal revenue would be generated.
“It’s an unfortunate game that’s being played between the White House, the extremists and environmentalists that got him there and, unfortunately, the people of Alaska in this country,” Dunleavy said. “We’re preparing, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.”
Currently, Alaska pumps about 500,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the governor. But he expressed fears that the likely Willow disapproval will set the precedent for future drilling opportunities.
“You want more production to drive the prices down across the board for all of our Americans and Alaskans,” Dunleavy explained. “It’s problematic. Again, we’re supposed to hear some word of the decision here this week or early next week; hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.”
Environmental groups reportedly oppose even a scaled-down version of the project. The Sierra Club said in a press release last month: “The Willow project would have a devastating effect on public lands and our climate, and approving it after passing the largest climate bill in history would be a giant step in reverse.”
But AFI-CIO President Joelle Hall argued earlier that it’s possible for Biden to approve this project while also building a sustainable “climate future.”
“America simply must do two things at once: we have to be able to continue to develop natural oil and gas reserves here in Alaska, and we have to be able to build towards a climate future that’s free of these types of carbons,” Hall said. “But we have to do two things at once, it’s pretty simple.”
Dunleavy predicted that, when Biden likely shuts down the Willow project, his administration will go to adversaries like Venezuela for more oil supply – when, as the governor stressed, the answer lies within American borders.
“Alaska probably has more sanctions put against it by our own government than our government has against Venezuela,” the governor said. “So, this is not the end of oil, it’s just the end of oil in America.”