The extraction project received the green light from the US Department of the Interior on Monday.
Oil giant ConocoPhillips is allowed to drill for oil at three locations in northwest Alaska. Supporters of the project believe it will create thousands of new jobs and make the US less dependent on imported oil.
– Breaking an election promise
Environmental activists, for their part, believe that the climate crisis does not leave room for the development of more large oil fields. In addition, they claim that Biden is now breaking his election promise not to approve more new oil projects on federal, state land.
– The harmful effects of President Biden’s decision cannot be exaggerated, says Ben Jealous, head of the environmental organization Sierra Club.
It is estimated that oil production in the area in question in Alaska could be up to 180,000 barrels per day. In Alaska, the project has support from both Republican and Democratic politicians.
Protects other areas
The day before Willow was approved, Biden’s administration announced it was suspending oil drilling in several other areas in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean. These areas are important habitats for polar bears, seals, whales, reindeer and migratory birds.
In addition, the Biden government says no to a fourth place where ConocoPhillips wanted to drill for oil as part of the Willow project.
Disputes in the judiciary
The Willow project was originally approved when Donald Trump was president, but then stalled in the judiciary. Biden’s approval will probably also be tried to be stopped in the judiciary by environmental organisations.
The extraction areas are located in an area called the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which was set aside for possible oil drilling exactly one hundred years ago.
Former President Barack Obama decided that roughly half of the area is not suitable for oil extraction.