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Biden’s Approval for Willow Oil Project Challenged in Court

An appeals court is considering whether to let President Biden’s decision to greenlight the Willow oil project stand or strike it down as opponents want.

The case was heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday but the court has yet to make a decision. The focus of the hearing was on the plaintiffs’ claim that the Bureau of Land Management did not include a “reasonable” range of alternatives to its assessment of the project, limiting itself only to those that would allow Willow to proceed, the AP reported.

The approval was granted, per the plaintiffs, “on the flawed premise that it must allow ConocoPhillips to extract all economically viable oil from its leases and assessed only a narrow range of action alternatives that each allowed nearly identical oil production.”

President Biden gave the go-ahead to the Willow oil project last March. The massive project covers three drill sites in the National Petroleum Reserve in an area that is estimated to hold up to 600 million barrels of oil.

Willow incited much controversy from climate activists and some of Biden’s supporters from the left, many of whom argue that the project is a major setback in fighting climate change, with the Interior Department’s estimate that the project could see 278 million metric tons in emissions over its 30-year lifespan.

The $8-billion project could see peak production of 160,000 barrels of oil daily, according to 2020 estimates but since then, this has been revised up to a maximum of 180,000 barrels daily.

Immediately after the federal government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the project, opponents took them to court, arguing it would exacerbate climate change. The judge who heard the case ruled against the plaintiffs, basing her decision on internal inconsistencies in their declarations arguing that the project will cause irreparable harm.

Opponents have been quick to challenge that judge’s decision in what is the second lawsuit against the Willow project.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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