White House denies reports that Alaska oil drilling project has been approved

White House denies reports that Alaska oil drilling project has been approved

The Guardian reports:

The Biden administration has denied reports that it has authorized a key oil drilling project on Alaska’s north slope, a highly contentious project that environmentalists argue would damage a pristine wilderness and gut White House commitments to combat climate crisis.

Late Friday, Bloomberg was first to report citing anonymous sources that senior Biden advisers had signed off on the project and formal approval would be made public by the Interior Department next week.

The decision to authorize drilling on the north slope, if correct, would amount to one of the most symbolically important climate decisions of Biden’s political career and place his administration in conflict with the climate-alert left wing of the Democratic party.

But that pressure is countered by unions and some Indigenous communities in Alaska who say approval of the project would provide economic security in the state beyond the borders of the 9.3m-hectare (23m acres) area of the north slope that is considered the largest tract of undisturbed public land in the US.

But after reports were published, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “no final decisions have been made” on the project and “anyone who says there has been a final decision is wrong”.

Earlier on Friday, former vice-president Al Gore said it would be “recklessly irresponsible” to allow the project to proceed. “The pollution it would generate will not only put Alaska native and other local communities at risk, it is incompatible with the ambition we need to achieve a net zero future,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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