Approval of Alaskan oil projects adds yet another climate concern. WGN Radio 720

JUNAU, Alaska (AP) — The Biden administration’s approval of major oil developments in northern Alaska has set the United States for more decades of crude oil projects, but scientists say fossil It urgently warns that climate change can only be stopped by stopping fuel emissions.

ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project will produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, and using that crude will emit at least 263 million tons (239 million tons) of greenhouse gases over 30 years. will be

Global warming has not reduced the demand for oil. Fierce political controversy surrounding the project, which was approved on Monday, highlights the Democratic administration’s struggle to balance economic pressures on its promise to curb fossil fuels. , also highlights the paradox facing the United States and other countries. In short, the world’s clean energy transition lags behind the realities of an economy where oil consumption is still the main driver.

“At some point, you have to leave the oil, gas, and coal in the ground. And for me, it’s at a point now, especially in vulnerable ecosystems like the Arctic,” says Stanford University’s Climate Scientist Rob Jackson said.

For Alaska, the project promised to boost the economy after oil production plummeted since the late 1980s, and political leaders from both parties in the state banded together to support it. Oil has long been the lifeblood of the still-young state’s economy, and the revenues also help Alaska’s remote communities and villages on the oil-rich North Slope invest in local infrastructure.

But the state is also feeling the effects of a changing climate. Coastal erosion threatens indigenous villages, freak wildfires, thinning sea ice and melting permafrost promises to release carbon.

The International Energy Agency says countries, including the United States, must stop new investment in oil and gas drilling if they want to reach their 2050 net zero emissions goal. be absorbed.

The energy sector accounts for 90% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and releases three-quarters of man-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

However, global demand for crude is expected to continue to rise, according to industry analysts and the US Energy Information Administration.

Instead of targeting domestic supplies of these fuels, including projects like Willow, energy expert Jim Crane said policymakers should focus on reducing demand.

“Refiners will pull oil from abroad if they target domestic supply without doing anything to curb demand,” he said.

Targeting goods could have broader economic effects, Crane added, because transportation costs are one of the drivers of inflation.

Electric vehicles have the potential to replace gasoline cars and trucks, but so far the demand for fossil fuels has done little. By 2030, EVs are expected to emit 2.7 million barrels of oil per day, according to new findings from Enverus Intelligence Research, a data analytics firm focused on the energy industry.

That’s less than 3% of global oil consumption and is expected to be about the same as today’s levels by 2030, about 100 million barrels per day, according to research firm senior vice president Al. Salazar said.

“Demand never goes to zero in the blink of an eye,” says Salazar. “It takes time to hand over an entire fleet of small cars.”

The Willow Project is located on the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve. This is where Republican US Senators noted that drilling should be expected. The Biden administration last year revived an Obama-era oil reserves management plan that limited oil and gas leasing to about 52% of state land in the region. That set back a Trump-era plan that called for about 82% of state land to be made available for lease.

The greenhouse gases from Willow are comparable to emissions from approximately 1.7 million cars. That’s just 0.1% of total US emissions. For years, Home Office officials have cited relatively low global emissions as justification for approving coal mine and oil and gas leases.

Jackson said the outlook cannot continue if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided. We are far from zero emissions.

“It’s because there are millions of other cars and thousands of coal plants in operation around the world, so every new car we put on the road or the coal plant we build is It’s like thinking it doesn’t matter,” he said.

Before Willow’s decision, the administration had already softened the oil and gas opposition that characterized the early years of the Biden presidency.

Democrats initially halted new oil and gas lease sales, and the administration has since fended off legal challenges to that policy from Republican state attorneys general. , agreed a new lease of tens of millions of acres to win the support of Democratic holdout Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The provisions of this measure link oil and gas leasing to renewable energy development. As a result, the administration plans to put his oil and gas leases on sale for more than 73 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico later this month. In May and June, he will auction off onshore leases of 280,000 acres in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana and other states.

Environmentalists say the Gulf sale could result in more than a billion barrels of oil and tons of natural gas being extracted over the next 50 years.

“This administration has promised to oversee the historic transition to clean energy, but actions speak louder than words,” said an environmental group representing an environmental group that has asked a federal court to stop the sale of the Gulf. Earthjustice attorney George Torgan said.

Kara Moriarty, president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said the shift to more renewable energy sources isn’t like flipping a switch. She predicted that the oil and gas industry would last for decades.

“We will have an industry 30 years from now,” she said.


Brown reported from Billings, Montana. Approval of Alaskan oil projects adds yet another climate concern. WGN Radio 720

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