A federal approval of a multi-billion oil project that would have been built in Alaska was thrown out by a judge last week who claimed the government didn't assess the project's impact on climate change and polar bears before approving the permits.
The project, called the ConocoPhillips Willow project, was backed by both the Biden and Trump administrations. It was also backed by "wide support" from Alaskan political leaders, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But that didn't stop U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason from ruling that the Bureau of Land Management didn't account for greenhouse gasses that the project would produce.
The judge wrote: “As to the errors found by the Court, they are serious.”
ConocoPhillips will now head back to the drawing board and "evaluate its options", according to the report.
Despite the project getting the backing of the Biden administration, the company knew it had a long road of legal challenges (in an unfavorable PR climate for oil & gas names) to deal with.
The project was supposed to be a 160,000 barrel-per-day, 30 year project that would drill in the federal government’s National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had slowed the project this year, despite the Trump administration offering its final approval of the project in October.
Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy said: “Make no mistake, today’s ruling from a federal judge trying to shelve a major oil project on American soil does one thing: outsources. This is a horrible decision.”
Jeremy Lieb, an attorney with Earthjustice, who brought the case on behalf of other plaintiffs, said: “We are hopeful that the administration won’t give the fossil fuel industry another chance to carve up this irreplaceable Arctic landscape with drilling rigs, roads, and pipelines. We should keep Arctic oil in the ground if we want a livable planet for future generations.”