The approval process for a massive oil drilling project in Alaska sparked intense disagreements within the Biden administration that culminated in a tactful media leak late last week, according to two senators who advocated for the project.
President Biden and top White House advisers have finally called for a green light on Project Willow, a drilling project that its developer ConocoPhillips planned to produce up to 614 million barrels of crude oil over its lifetime. life of 30 years, but faced stiff opposition from officials. elsewhere in the administration, Republicans in Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan told reporters on a Monday call.
“Were there people within the administration, within the Ministry of the Interior, who were actively working to kill this? Absolutely, positively,” Murkowski said. “I don’t think you have to name names. Let’s just say that this administration has made no secret of the fact that it wants to go beyond oil.
“There are absolutely people in the administration today who don’t see this as good news,” she continued. “I think they tried to actively work against us and they worked against us until the end.”
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Murkowski, Sullivan and Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola had repeatedly urged the administration over the past year to approve the bill, noting that it has near-unanimous support across the country. Alaska and arguing that it would give the state a much-needed boost. economy while strengthening America’s energy security.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) released its decision on Monday morning, approving three of five proposed drilling sites in a major victory for its supporters and a cause of consternation among environmentalists who said the project was a “bombshell of carbon”. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland notably did not make a statement in the public announcement.
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“I think we realized some time ago that this was going to be a decision that would ultimately be made at the White House level, not just by senior leadership, but actually with the direct involvement of the president himself.” , Murkowski told reporters. “The President had clearly been briefed on Willow and what Willow was.”
“It wasn’t something that I think was ultimately going to reside with the Home Secretary.”
Sullivan added that he knows “for a fact” that the decision to endorse Willow was leaked late last week in a last-ditch effort to get Biden to change his mind among administration members opposed to the project. . Bloomberg first reported Friday night that senior administration officials had approved the project.
The report was quickly followed by a statement from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that no decision had been made and that “anyone who says there has been a final decision has wrong”.
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“We know, for example, for a fact, that the leak to Bloomberg reporters on Friday was an attempt by some anti-Willow forces in the Biden administration to kill the project,” Sullivan said Monday. “It was disappointing to see that. We were very aware of that from the start.”
“Secretary Haaland has not been actively engaged, in my view, on this,” he continued. “And that may have been because she, as a congressman, was vocally against Willow. So it probably wouldn’t have been objective for her to be the decision maker. It was clearly at the presidential level.
The DOI declined to comment. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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