The federal judge on Wednesday threw out Trump administration approvals for a large planned oil project on Alaska North Slope, saying the federal review was flawed and didn’t include relief plans for polar bears. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage vacated permits for ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in a 110-page ruling.
The Trump administration approved the project in late 2020, and the Biden administration defended the project in court. Rebecca Boys, a ConocoPhillips’ spokesperson, said the company would review the decision and assess the options available regarding this project.Spokespersons for the U.S. Bureau of Land Managementa and the Interior Department said their agencies had no comment. The Bureau of Land Management conducted the environmental review of the project that Gleason found flawed.
Conservation groups and Sovereign Inupiat for the Living Arctic, described as a grassroots organization, had challenged the adequacy of the review process.Karlin Itchoak, director of The Wilderness Society, called this move as the ruling a step toward protecting public lands and the people who would be most negatively impacted by the BLM’s haphazard greenlighting of the Willow project.
Analysts said that the Biden administration would likely release its long-awaited plan for oil and gas leasing on federal lands and the offshore Gulf of Mexico as soon as the U.S. Senate votes on a key Interior Department nominee. S&P Global Platts Analytics continues to expect the leasing review to have only stopped the impact on the U.S. production outlook, with onshore shale output rising to 8.5 million b/d by end-2022, from 7.3 million b/d in July 2021.