PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Biden’s Alaska Oil Drilling Decisions (Willow Project)

Published March 14, 2023

“Biden’s action is far more punitive and stifling of Alaskan energy production than any action taken by any previous president, including Barack Obama.”

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (March 14, 2023) – President Biden this week approved the ConocoPhillips Willow Project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. The project is expected to create up to 2,500 new jobs during construction and 300 permanent positions, and allow up to 180,000 barrels of oil to flow daily through the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

However, Biden’s Department of Interior also introduced regulations to block new leases on 2.8 million acres of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and 13 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve. A Biden administration official told The New York Times that the new regulations are designed to create a “firewall” against new drilling.

The Willow Project was approved by the Trump administration in 2020, but a federal judge threw out the permits in August 2021 citing the concerns of environmentalists.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“Biden’s action is far more punitive and stifling of Alaskan energy production than any action taken by any previous president, including Barack Obama. Even Obama never had the audacity to impose such far-reaching restrictions on oil production in the National Petroleum Reserve.

“Biden’s action is akin to a family going out to dinner only to return home to find a juvenile delinquent smashing their house’s windows with rocks. Caught in the act, and having already smashed four of the home’s 10 windows, the juvenile delinquent says, ‘See, I did you a favor – I graciously left six of your windows unbroken.’ And then, on his way out of the neighborhood, the delinquent smashes all the windows of three neighbors’ homes. For this, the neighborhood is supposed to be grateful?

“If the goal of the Biden administration is to destroy American energy production at all costs, Biden’s decision to gut the Willow Project was a resounding success. If, however, the goal of American energy policy is to protect the American and global energy markets from increasing Iranian, Venezuelan, Saudi Arabian, Russian, and Chinese dominance, Biden’s newest action is complete suicide.”

James Taylor
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Biden wants credit for advancing America’s energy security and reducing prices at the pump, for releasing a small area of the National Petroleum Reserve for production. He should get no praise. President Trump opened up a much larger area of the reserve, a reserve set aside by law specifically for energy production. Early in his administration, Biden reversed Trump’s actions, withdrawing the area for production.

“Now, he allows drilling on one small area and he wants credit for putting America’s energy needs first. Wrong! On top of that, almost simultaneously with the Willow decision, Biden bars production on millions of acres of land and offshore. Biden’s energy policy is one step forward, three steps back for the American people.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Director, Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate & Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
[email protected]

“Every time Biden is forced to do something positive for American energy production, he and his agencies follow it up with a backhanded slap. Just a few short weeks ago, Biden was giving press releases about how oil companies are villains. None of this should be a surprise to anyone, and Biden certainly should not get one ounce of praise for the Willow project going forward.

“This administration’s explicit goal is to cripple American energy producers over time, while at the same time chastising them for daring to exist in the first place. The executive branch is totally captured by extremists who would rather have our oil come from dictators and countries with little in the way of environmental protection, than see American energy security thrive.”

Linnea Lueken
Research Fellow
Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1984 and headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.