Biden administration officials are seeking to revive yet another major fossil fuel project in Alaska that climate advocates are warning would have 10 times the emissions impact of another recently-approved fossil fuel project in Alaska, infuriating climate advocates and experts.
Despite blaring warnings about the significant dangers of approving new fossil fuel projects from climate scientists, the Biden administration is seeking to approve the Alaska LNG project, according to Politico.
The nearly $40 billion proposal would see the construction of a pipeline and liquified natural gas or LNG facility along Alaska’s south coast with the goal of exporting fossil gas, largely to Asia.
Last month, the administration approved exports related to the project, which now has “fresh momentum” after winning that key permit from the Department of Energy. Like Willow, a major fossil fuel infrastructure project slated to be on Alaska’s North Slope that the administration greenlit in March, the project had stalled under President Donald Trump and is seeing new life under Joe Biden despite the Democrat’s promises to act on the climate crisis.
According to the Department of Energy’s environmental impact statement for the project, the project would release up to 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere over the course of its lifetime. This is 10 times the amount that ConocoPhillips’s Willow project is projected to release, or about 20 times the amount of emissions reductions that had been achieved by Biden environmental projects as of last year, according to an analysis by Center for American Progress.
The approval of Willow was already a major disappointment to climate and Indigenous advocates, who say that the project would put local Iñupiat communities in harm’s way, permanently alter the North Slope ecosystem and entrench fossil fuels in a time when the global climate community is saying the industry must be drawn down. With the advancement of Alaska LNG, climate advocates are saying that President Joe Biden’s climate legacy will be one of further entrenching the climate crisis.
“Alaska LNG is a carbon bomb 10 times the size of Willow,” Friends of the Earth program manager Lukas Ross told Politico. “By rubber-stamping projects like these, Joe Biden is putting his own climate legacy at risk.”
“The proposed Alaska LNG export project would threaten Arctic wildlife and exacerbate the climate crisis by locking in decades of increased gas extraction and exports at a time when the science is clear that we must rapidly transition away from fossil fuels,” Sierra Club Alaska chapter director Andrea Feniger said in a statement when the exports were approved last month. “Claiming that a project like this could possibly be in the public interest isn’t just out of step with the Biden administration’s stated commitment to climate action – it’s out of step with reality.”
Last week, climate activists traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest the Biden administration’s approval of permits for fossil fuel projects like Willow, Alaska LNG and Mountain Valley Pipeline. The activist group Climate Defiance blockaded the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, demanding that Biden deliver on his campaign promise to stop approving new oil and gas wells on federal lands that would feed the pipelines and export terminals proposed in Alaska LNG, and to begin phasing out fossil fuels.
Alaska LNG was first advanced by the Trump administration, but it stalled after a series of Trump-imposed tariffs and his administration’s trade war with China threw the project into uncertainty. But recent bills passed under and supported by Biden have paved the way for the project to go through.
According to Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, he and the other senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski (R), put language in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill to make the project eligible for billions of dollars’ worth of federal loan guarantees. Then, included in Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – which Biden touted as a historic climate bill – was a major tax credit for Big Oil-favored carbon capture technologies that Alaska LNG backers say would funnel $600 million a year into the project.
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