Alaska News

Environmental groups sue Trump administration to stop ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project

Conservation groups are suing to halt the Trump administration’s approval of a development plan for ConocoPhillips' Willow oil project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. The groups suing include the Alaska Wilderness League, Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and the Sierra Club.

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service underestimated the plan’s harm to wildlife, including polar bears, the groups argue. The BLM also failed to provide a plan mitigating for harm to Arctic communities and public health, the groups said.

The Trump administration approved the plan last month, setting the stage for the construction of multiple drill sites, a processing facility and gravel roads and pipelines.

Conservation groups decried the proposal as a threat to the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, a wetland complex in the 23-million-acre reserve that supports migratory birds and calving grounds for the Teshekpuk Lake caribou herd.

The project could produce up to 160,000 barrels daily, or 600 million barrels over 30 years, helping offset dwindling oil production and state revenues in Alaska, BLM has said. ConocoPhillips has said first oil could be produced in the mid-2020s.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or