LNG and the Willow Project: Biden’s stance on oil drilling becomes clearer

steel long pipe system in crude oil factory during sunset, Alaskan setting, oil pipe signifying the Willow project
Image © kodda | istock

President Biden’s approval of the Willow Project and the ‘carbon bomb’ LNG project has rightly sparked environmental outrage across the globe, but are the political consequences of its endorsement being overlooked?

Since the approval of the Willow Project by U.S. President Joe Biden in March, there has been increased resistance towards the multi-billion dollar oil project and the man who sanctioned it.

The next month saw the administration approve exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, so what can we really belive about the US president’s environmental beliefs?

What is the Willow Project: A quick summary

The $8 Billion drilling project known as the Willow Project is the proposal of new oil fields on the Alaskan North Slope, a spot that until now was the largest tract of undisturbed public land in the United States.

Located inside the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 23 million-acre area on the Alaskan North Slope, the project has the potential to produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, 1.5% of the total U.S. oil production.

Joe Biden, his stance on the climate and oil drilling

The ‘champion’ of historic climate legislation raised his supporter’s hopes during his presidential campaign, but many are saying he has let them down.

Joe Biden has a history of campaigning against many climate-destroying processes like oil drilling and fracking. Running an environmentally focused campaign allowed him to gain substantial support.

During a 2020 debate with Bernie Sanders, the now-president stated, “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, number one.”

“No more drilling on federal lands”

Since the administration’s approval in March, Biden’s ratings among key allies appear to have fallen, with many young voters feeling “angry” and “betrayed”, according to the New York Times.

“It’s outrageous that Biden seems ready to greenlight the massively destructive Willow project, prioritizing oil industry profits over the future of polar bears and other Arctic wildlife,” said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Biden’s environmental accomplishments and triumphs

Although many are angry about the approval of the Willow Project, Biden has restored many of the environmental regulations that were rolled back during Trump’s administration.

The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act and the biggest piece of climate legislation in U.S. history – the IRA, indicated Biden is attempting to pioneer climate justice but is that enough?

With continued investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles, like the $1 billion towards helping the global south address climate change, it’s hard to know what the President and his administration truly want.

The Willow Project is dangerous

Oil drilling is a complex process that involves numerous potential hazards like blowouts, leaks, and explosions.

According to Ground Report, “the project could also contribute to the degradation of water quality, as the drilling and transport of oil could result in spills and leaks that could contaminate the water supply”.

“The Alaska Willow project raises many concerns about its potential impact on the environment, wildlife, and local communities.

While proponents of the project argue that it will create jobs and boost the economy, opponents argue that the risks are too great and that the focus should be on transitioning to renewable energy sources”.

The Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) project

Labelled a ‘Carbon Bomb’, the LGN project’s exports were first approved by the administration of Donald Trump however it is Biden’s administration that has seen the approval.

According to the Guardian, “Alaska LNG includes a liquefaction facility on the Kenai peninsula in southern Alaska and a proposed 807-mile (1,300-km) pipeline to move gas stranded in northern Alaska across the state”.

When speaking to Politico Lukas Ross, program manager at the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth claimed “Alaska LNG is a carbon bomb 10 times the size of Willow.”

Alaska LNG is a carbon bomb 10 times the size of Willow

The Biden administration maintains that this figure is ‘most likely’ an exaggeration.

“By rubber-stamping projects like these, Joe Biden is putting his own climate legacy at risk” explained Ross

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