Several New Mexico members of congress pushed back at their usual allies in the Biden administration and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland over the approval of a massive oil-drilling project in Alaska known as Willow.
The Biden administration announced its formal approval of the project on Monday. The project – proposed by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. – will take place about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the country’s largest single expanse of undeveloped, pristine land, according to the New York Times.
The Interior Department’s decision approves the infrastructure needed to produce and transport to market federal oil and gas resources in the Willow reservoir in northern Alaska.
“It’s disappointing to see Secretary Haaland and President Biden approve the ‘Willow Project’ for ConocoPhillips,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said in a statement. “The Western Arctic is one of the last great wild landscapes on the planet and as public land it belongs to every American. Industrial development in this unspoiled landscape will not age well.”
Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M., also pushed back on the decision, though she didn’t single out Biden or Haaland by name. Stansbury’s seat was previously held by Haaland, who left the post after being appointed to president Biden’s cabinet.
“As the future of our planet hangs in the balance, I join millions — including Indigenous leaders, scientists, and lawmakers — in opposing the Willow Project and urging the Biden administration to reconsider its approval of this project and its consequences for global climate change and the communities and ecosystems it will impact,” Stansbury said.
ConocoPhillips said on its website the Willow site is estimated to produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, and that the project will create 2,500 construction jobs, 300 permanent jobs and generate between $8 billion and $17 billion in new revenue for the federal government, the State of Alaska, the North Slope Borough, and nearby communities.