The people are not letting the government off the hook for breaking promises. Numerous conservation, environmental, local, and Indigenous advocacy groups have filed lawsuits against the government to stop Willow, a massive oil drilling project in Alaska set to pillage up to 600 million barrels of crude oil over 30 years.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday, led by environmental law organization Earthjustice, accuses the Biden administration of failing to consider alternatives that could have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts. The gargantuan oil drilling operation is projected to emit the equivalent of roughly two million cars’ worth of carbon pollution every year.
Biden’s approval of the Willow project comes after he repeatedly promised “no more drilling.”
“Now we have to step up and fight for these priceless wild places and the people and animals that depend on them. It’s clear that we can’t count on Biden to keep his word on confronting climate change and halting drilling on public lands,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The lawsuit also charges the administration did not assess the full climate impact of the project, neglecting to consider additional pollution from future development once the project’s infrastructure is in place. Earthjustice cites ConocoPhillips’s description of the project to investors as the “next great Alaska hub,” and that as much as three billion barrels’ worth of oil may lie nearby for them to further plunder from inside the earth.
The lawsuit also charges the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service with failing to consider how the project directly violates their mandates of protecting surface resources and endangered species.
“Permitting Willow to go forward is green-lighting a carbon bomb. It would set back the climate fight and embolden an industry hell-bent on destroying the planet,” said Christy Goldfuss, chief policy impact officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The Wednesday lawsuit follows one filed the day before by another six groups, led by Trustees for Alaska, which leveled similar charges against the government. The lawsuits note that the now-approved project violates similar laws that led a court to void previous approval for the project signed off on by Trump.
“ConocoPhillips has made record profits year after year and hopes to continue to do so at the cost of our communities and future generations,” said Siqiñiq Maupin, executive director of Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic. “The true cost of Willow is a future where we lose our traditional practices and diet because of the pollution and destruction to land, water, and climate caused by the fossil fuel industry’s unending greed.”