A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday voided development permits for a major oil development on the North Slope that was backed by the Trump and Biden administrations.
In a written order, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason said the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service incorrectly approved the Willow oil project, which could produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day from a portion of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, west of Prudhoe Bay.
The project has been seen by its developer, ConocoPhillips, as part of a “renaissance” in North Slope oil development. Several conservation groups sued the BLM in November, saying the agency underestimated the plan’s harm to wildlife, among other things.
Though the suit was filed under the Trump administration, the federal government’s support for the project continued under the Biden administration, with attorneys for the new president arguing that the project is legal.
A preliminary injunction, approved by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February, halted preliminary work on the project, and Wednesday’s decision from Gleason said the conservation groups’ arguments have merit.
Among other findings, she concluded that federal authorities incorrectly considered the impact the project would have on foreign greenhouse gas emissions and disregarded potential alternative development plans for the region.
ConocoPhillips has spent approximately $500 million developing the project, according to court filings.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Read More: Federal judge voids permits for ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project