Ranking Democrat Grijalva and Senator Markey Lead Call on President Biden to Reject the Willow Project

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, today led their colleagues in sending a letter to President Joe Biden calling on his administration to reject ConocoPhillips’ Willow Master Development Plan (MDP), a massive 30-year oil and gas development proposal on public lands in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

READ the full letter here.

Last year, congressional Democrats and President Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, delivering the federal government’s largest-ever investment in climate and clean energy to the American people. In their letter, the legislators raised concerns that approving any plan to advance the Willow project would be inconsistent with the historic achievements on climate and environmental justice made to date:

“If allowed to proceed, the Willow [Master Development Plan] would pose a significant threat to U.S. progress on climate issues,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to President Biden. “Climate damage is unlikely to stop with the first phase of the Willow project; your administration needs to draw the line now.”

The Willow MDP could alone cause nearly $20 billion in climate-related damages while also threatening the well-being of nearby Nuiqsut, Alaska. Nuiqsut’s federally recognized and elected tribal government, in partnership with the city’s Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and city council, made their concerns on the Willow project clear to President Biden.

The lawmakers stressed in their letter that, rather than approving the Willow MDP, the administration should choose the no-action alternative and initiate a rulemaking proceeding that fully and permanently protects the Nuiqsut region’s designated special areas and meets the ecological and subsistence needs of the people of Nuiqsut:

“You can stop this ill-conceived and misguided project,” they continued. “We therefore ask your administration to reject the Willow [Master Development Plan], choose the no-action alternative, and fundamentally reconsider this unsustainable approach to managing the Western Arctic.”

Ranking Member Grijalva and Sen. Markey were joined by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Rep. Gwen S. Moore (D-Wis.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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Lindsay Gressard