Alaska’s congressional delegation met with President Joe Biden this week to discuss his administration’s impending decision on the Willow oil project, according to a Friday joint statement from their offices.
Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan met with Biden and his senior advisers Thursday and talked for more than an hour, according to the statement.
“The conversation was honest and respectful, and we appreciated the president’s recognition of how critical this moment is for Alaska’s future our nation’s energy transition,” the delegation said in the statement.
“We were united in our advocacy for the Willow Project and made the strongest possible case for it,” the delegation said.
A decision on the project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve is expected next week. The ConocoPhillips oil prospect could produce some 180,000 barrels of oil per day, a significant amount as production from the North Slope has declined to under 500,000 barrels per day in recent years. Advocates for the project in Alaska see it as a crucial boost for the state’s economy.
But Biden, who has said climate change an “emergency” that is “literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world,” is facing intense pressure from many of his supporters to kill the project. Conservation and Indigenous groups held a protest against Willow outside the White House on Friday.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has been considering approving a scaled-back version of the project with two drilling pads, the Washington Post reported. ConocoPhillips has said a project of that size would not be economically viable, and Alaska’s congressional delegation is also pushing back against that possibility.
“The president has all the information he needs to make the right decision for Alaska and for the nation, and reapprove a three-pad, economically-viable Willow Project alternative without delay,” the delegation said in Friday’s statement.
“Now, this decision is in the hands of the president.”