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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against ConocoPhillips for its planned Willow oil project in Alaska by a group of environmentalist organizations.
The judge who heard the case based her decision on internal inconsistencies in the plaintiffs’ declarations arguing that the project will cause irreparable harm. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason also cited the broader public interest as a basis for her decision, the Courthouse News Service reported.
The lawsuits were brought in front of the court by two environmentalist organizations and a Native American community, who argued that the $8-billion Willow project would exacerbate climate change and cause damage to local habitats.
According to Judge Gleason, however, the initial construction works planned by ConocoPhillips concern roads and a gravel mine, which is unlikely to cause the plaintiffs any irreparable harm, Reuters noted in a report of the news.
The Biden administration approved the highly controversial Willow project last month sparking the outrage of environmentalists after pledging to clip the wings of the U.S. oil and gas industry.
The approval also prompted criticism from Biden’s own party, with some arguing allowing the production of more oil in Alaska would be a setback in the fight against climate change.
The $8-billion oil project, led by ConocoPhillips, was awarded to the company by the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management in 2020. The project could deliver 160,000 bpd of crude, the BLM said at the time, with reserves estimated at between 400 and 750 million barrels. The lifetime of the project was estimated at up to 30 years in 2019.
Currently, the rate of production from Willow is seen at between 160,000 bpd and 180,000 bpd. Yet opposition from the environmentalist lobby will likely continue as activists have said that the only development that would satisfy them would be shutting the project down entirely.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.