Alaska GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan said Monday that Alaskan natives feel President Biden’s administration, along with environmental groups looking to stifle an arctic oil project, are bringing a “second wave of colonialism” to the Last Frontier.
Sullivan’s comments from the S&P Global’s 2023 CERAWeek energy conference in Houston came as he urged President Biden’s administration to approve the Willow Project, an Alaskan arctic oil project that would – amid pushback from environmental groups – provide the U.S. with domestic access to millions of barrels of oil.
Describing a meeting he had with President Biden, along with Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Alaska Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola, Sullivan said, “We said to the president, ‘This is exactly the kind of energy project that Joe Biden, President Biden, should approve because it meets so many of the things you say your administration is for.’”
“The highest environmental standards in the world… the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any major project,” Sullivan added of efforts favored by the Biden administration. “Negligible emissions is what they say in the EIS, and they also do what is called a market analysis substitution. So if you don’t do Willow, we’re gonna get energy from places like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the emissions are much higher. Not doing Willow pumps more CO2 into the atmosphere.”
Sullivan said the project has received “very strong support” from the region’s indigenous people, but the Biden administration has ignored those comments.
“What they’re starting to say is, these lower 48 environmental groups who are now doing this big campaign against Willow are undertaking, really, the second wave of colonialism,” he said. “This is from our native leaders. Eco-colonialism, where they’re coming up and telling Alaskan natives: ‘Here’s how you should live your life.’ It’s ridiculous.”
According to Reuters, the Willow Project proposed by ConocoPhillips would cost $6 billion for an oil drilling enterprise in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 23 million-acre area that is “the largest tract of undisturbed public land in the United States.”
The area holds an estimated 600 million barrels of oil, and ConocoPhillips estimates that the Willow Project would deliver up to 180,000 barrels a day and generate $17 billion in federal tax revenue.
The Bureau of Land Management recently issued a decision narrowing the scope of the Willow Project from five drilling pads requested by ConocoPhillips to three. The company said that three is the minimum required to make the project economically viable and would be prepared to start drilling “immediately” if the three were approved.
“As we said in this meeting, if they deny this project, their rhetoric on racial equity and environmental justice is very empty,” Sullivan said. “The president says he’s a big supporter of the unions, this project would create 2,500 jobs, 75% of which are union jobs. Every major union in America has come out strongly in support of this.”
Sullivan said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed the “need for energy security” in America and that he pressed Biden on the issue of the U.S. purchasing oil from other countries, like Venezuela, when it has its own supply domestically.
Fox Business’ Eric Revell contributed to this article.