Fellow Dems Say Willow Approval Leaves 'Oil Stain' on Biden Climate Legacy

Calling the decision

March 13, 2023

Progressives on Capitol Hill joined climate advocates and Indigenous leaders across the country Monday in blasting U.S. President Joe Biden for his administration's approval of ConocoPhillips' Willow oil project on federal land in Alaska.

"The Biden administration has committed to fighting climate change and advancing environmental justice—today's decision to approve the Willow project fails to live up to those promises," declared U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) along with a trio of House Natural Resources Committee leaders, Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

The four Democrats argued that "their decision ignores the voices of the people of Nuiqsut, our frontline communities, and the irrefutable science that says we must stop building projects like this to slow the ever more devastating impacts of climate change."

In a move widely seen as an attempt to temper criticism of the decision to greenlight Willow, the Biden administration on Monday also announced new restrictions for offshore oil lease sales in the Arctic Ocean and across Alaska's North Slope.

"While we acknowledge that the administration also just announced that it is conserving new public lands and waters in the Arctic, split decisions in the face of the climate crisis are not good enough," the Democrats said. "This administration clearly knows what the path to a cleaner and more just future looks like—we wish they hadn't chosen to stray so far from that path with today's Willow decision. The only acceptable Willow project is no Willow project."


"By investing in the fossil-fueled past and not the green-energy future, we are failing frontline environmental justice communities who are bearing the brunt of climate chaos, and American consumers who remain at the whim of rising and volatile prices of oil and gas," he continued. "I am in solidarity with the community of advocates who oppose this disastrous decision and will continue fighting alongside them to put our people and our planet ahead of the profits of Big Oil."

Huffman similarly called the administration's move "incredibly disappointing" while also stressing that "the fight isn't over—I'll keep working to stop this climate disaster and protect the tribes and wildlife that depend on a fossil fuel-free Arctic."

Amid expectations that the project soon will be challenged in court, other federal lawmakers also piled on.


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By:  Jessica Corbett
Source: Common Dreams