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Federal judge in Alaska upholds Biden administration’s approval of the massive oil-drilling project

ConocoPhillips road and oil pipelines, near the site of the future Willow Project in the North Slope of Alaska in March 2023.ERIN SCHAFF/NYT

JUNEAU, Alaska — A federal judge on Thursday upheld the Biden administration’s approval of the Willow oil-drilling project on Alaska’s remote North Slope, a massive project that drew the ire of environmentalists who accused the president of backpedaling on his pledge to combat climate change.

US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason rejected calls made by a grassroots Iñupiat group and environmentalists to vacate the approval and dismissed their claims.

Those groups raised concerns about planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from Willow and argued that federal agencies failed to consider how increased emissions from the project could affect ice-reliant species such as the polar bear, Arctic ringed seals and bearded seals, which already are experiencing disruptions due to climate change.


The decision can be appealed.