Biden agrees to controversial massive Willow oil drilling in Alaska

The mayor of Nuixut, Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, whose community of about 525 people is closest to the proposed development, has spoken out against it, concerned about the impact on caribou and the way of life of its residents. The Naxragmiut Tribal Council in another North Slope community also raised concerns about the project.

But there is a “majority consensus” in the North Slope region that supports the project, said Nagruk Harcharek, president of the Voice of the Arctic Inupiat group, which includes leaders from much of the region.

The Nature Conservancy announced full protections for the entire Beaufort Sea Planning Area on Sunday, building on President Barack Obama’s 2016 actions in the Chukchi Sea Planning Area and most of the Beaufort Sea, the White House said.

Separately, the administration has taken steps to protect more than 13 million acres within the Oil Reserve, a 23 million-acre swath of land on Alaska’s North Slope set aside a century ago for future oil production.

The Willow project is located in a conservation area, and ConocoPhillips has long held a lease on the site. About half of the reserve is prohibited from oil and gas leasing under an Obama-era rule reinstated by the Biden administration last year.

Areas to be protected include Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Highlands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas, which together are known for their globally important grizzly and polar bear habitat, caribou and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.

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