A federal judge threw out oil drilling permits in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska on Wednesday. The Trump administration approved the permits for ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project on Alaska’s North Slope in the runup to the 2020 election, and the Biden administration had defended their legality (which, the New York Times reports, may have been a part of an effort to build favor with Alaskan Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski). However, BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service improperly approved the project, Judge Sharon Gleason wrote, because they failed to adequately provide for polar bear protections and assess its impact on climate change.
“This certainly gives the Biden administration the opportunity to reconsider whether to approve the project in light of its commitment to address climate change. And it should do that,” Jeremy Lieb of Earth Justice, which represented the plaintiffs, told the Washington Post.
“This is a huge deal,” Siqiñiq Maupin, executive director of the Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the Anchorage Daily News. “This will actually stop the entire project, they will have to do everything over again,” she said. (Anchorage Daily News, Washington Post $, AP, New York Times $, E&E News, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, Politico, Axios, The Hill, UPI)