Joe pretty much killed US oil production. Now that Ukraine rages is he serious about ramping it up?
I'm not holding my breath.
The Willow Oil Test for Biden
The biggest pending U.S. project awaits Administration approval.
By The Editorial Board, WSJ
March 1, 2023 6:38 pm ET
This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska's North Slope.
PHOTO: /ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Biden says the only barrier to more U.S. oil production is recalcitrant drillers. Ok, Mr. President, then are you going to approve Alaska’s Willow project?
ConocoPhillips acquired its first Willow leases in 1999 in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), an area the size of Indiana that Congress specifically set aside for oil development. It’s the largest pending oil and gas project in the U.S., with expected production of 180,000 barrels of oil a day, and 600 million over 30 years.
The Willow plan has passed every environmental analysis, would employ union labor and yield a revenue gusher. The final regulatory review was completed in early February, and it’s customary for the feds to give a final go-ahead within 30 days.
But the green left opposes Willow as a climate “bomb,” no matter that career scientists in federal agencies disagree. Willow completed its first federal environmental review in August 2020, only to watch a judge require another one. The Biden Bureau of Land Management (BLM) narrowed the scope from five drilling pads to three, and Willow recently passed another environmental review.
The project, which will occupy 0.002% of NPR-A, would use the current Alaska pipeline and uses only temporary roads (built on ice in winter). It’s been signed off by every agency, including Fish & Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Willow is also a low-carbon project. BLM’s analysis estimates its average annual total domestic emissions will total 0.15% of 2019 U.S. emissions levels, and 0.3% of anticipated 2030 levels. BLM also notes “in the absence of production from [Willow], energy produced from the Project’s oil would be replaced by other [sources]” around the globe. That includes such green meccas as Venezuela.
Willow is an $8 billion investment that will create 2,500 mostly union construction jobs, and hundreds more long-term positions. It’s estimated to generate as much as $17 billion in new revenue for the feds, the state of Alaska, and North Slope and Native communities.
The project has overwhelming support in Alaska, where the state House and Senate passed unanimous resolutions in support. Both GOP Senators and the state’s Democratic Representative are lobbying the White House for approval.
Yet approval remains uncertain, in part because of doubts about anti-fossil-fuel Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Within minutes of her own BLM scientists issuing their favorable environment review last month, Interior issued a statement citing “substantial concerns” with Willow, with references to climate and subsistence hunting. Ms. Haaland has also stiff-armed a delegation of pro-Willow Alaskan Natives seeking a meeting.
The Administration may try to split the baby by approving the project but with limits that make it uneconomical. ConocoPhillips has made clear that fewer than three drilling pads won’t be worth the investment. This duck and cover would be the equivalent of killing the project—and would betray the many bureaucratic professionals who approved it.
Willow should be easy to approve, especially given the world’s growing energy security. If Mr. Biden kills this project, either outright or on the sly, no one should believe another word he says about energy or oil prices.