WILMINGTON, Delaware (AP) — President Joe Biden is preventing or limiting oil drilling on 16 million acres in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, an administration official said Sunday.
The announcement, expected late Sunday, comes as regulators prepare to announce a final decision on the Willow project, a controversial oil drilling plan being pushed by ConocoPhillips.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss conservation efforts before they are officially unveiled.
The plan has two parts. First, the official said, Biden would ban drilling on nearly 3 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, closing off the rest of the federal waters from oil exploration.
Second, the administration will develop new rules for more than 13 million acres in the vast area known as the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve. The official said the area includes Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Upland, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay Special Areas.
It’s unclear whether the announcement will mollify environmentalists, especially young activists who have flooded social media with criticism of the Willow project, if the administration eventually announces it will allow the Willow project to move forward.
Willow will be the largest new oil field in Alaska in decades, producing up to 180,000 barrels per day, according to ConocoPhillips.