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Inside Climate News:

The Biden administration is facing a major test for its climate agenda in the Alaskan Arctic, where an oil company is proposing a 30-year development that would pump more than half-a-billion barrels of petroleum from a fragile and rapidly-warming ecosystem.

Climate advocates say the Willow project, planned by ConocoPhillips, is incompatible with President Joe Biden’s goal of setting the nation on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, and are calling on him to reject the proposal.

While Willow was approved in the final months of the Trump administration and was initially defended by the current administration, a federal judge in Alaska vacated the project’s approvals in August, sending it back to the approving agencies for review.

“We’ve been clear from the beginning that it’s an unacceptable project,” said Jeremy Lieb, a senior associate attorney at Earthjustice, an environmental law firm that represented advocates in one of two lawsuits that led to the August ruling.

Because the Arctic is warming so rapidly, and because Willow would produce oil for decades, ConocoPhillips has proposed installing “chillers” underground to fend off increased thawing in the permafrost that would undergird the project’s roads, pipelines and processing plant.

“We can’t afford to burn the oil that it will produce, and it will have really serious consequences for the people, wildlife and landscape where it will be built,” Lieb added. “Allowing it to move forward really is not consistent with what this administration has promised on climate, environment and just general, science-based decision making.”

[Nicholas Kusnetz]

More: ConocoPhillips’ Plan for Extracting Half-a-Billion Barrels of Crude in Alaska’s Fragile Arctic Presents a Defining Moment for Joe Biden

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