Alaska’s Willow Project Is Shown Immense Support at BLM Hearing

Alaska’s Willow Project Is Shown Immense Support at BLM Hearing

April 30, 2020

ConcocoPhillips Alaska’s Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) is a significant undertaking.  Development will run $5-6 billion and employ 2,000 or so workers. Once on-line, the estimated 9 billion barrels of oil will bring 300 full-time workers to the field, generate more than $10 billion in federal, state and North Slope Borough revenue and increase throughput of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).

The original proposal to develop Willow was modified by ConocoPhillips, after extensive dialogue with North Slope communities, subsistence hunters and others.  This necessitated a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) be run through the NEPA process.

As part of the SDEIS, a total of eight public meetings were held to gather public comments on the plan.  The first few statewide hearings were hijacked by environmental radicals, who chided the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees on everything from holding meetings virtually (via Zoom and Facebook Live) to being tone-deaf to the COVID-19 pandemic.  They demanded BLM halt the process until such a time in-person meetings could be held.

In short, their goals were not to provide meaningful input, but to delay, obstruct and misuse facts for their anti-development efforts.

The last four meetings were much more fact-based, as proponents of the project, including Power The Future’s Alaska State Director, Rick Whitbeck, testified in favor of the timeline and overall project.  Instead of lambasting BLM, proponents thanked them for their use of technology in the public process.  Whitbeck’s testimony is at the bottom of this post.

The record of decision for the Willow project is expected sometime in late summer or early fall.  Power The Future will continue to keep abreast of Willow’s progress, as it is one of many prospects for increased energy worker employment in Alaska.

Testimony by Rick Whitbeck:

Good evening.  My name is Rick Whitbeck, I’m a 35-year resident of our great state, and I’m the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national non-profit whose mission is to champion energy workers across America, promote additional opportunities for jobs in energy development, and push back against radicalized environmentalists and their goals to delay, obstruct and lie, in order to push their anti-jobs, anti-progress, anti-American agenda.

If you haven’t heard it enough lately, let me THANK YOU, BLM.  Thank you for taking time to listen to all voices, to use innovation and creativity with regard to technology to allow people speak to out about the benefits of the Willow project, and to learn how ConocoPhillips has adapted its plans to be even more beneficial to stakeholders across the region. 

While the naysayers (including Christopher, Ana and Pamela tonight) to this – who fight each and every attempt for attempt for responsible development projects – are continuously badgering you with reasons why you shouldn’t be holding these hearings, let me say – on behalf of all REASONABLE Alaskans –  THANK YOU for moving forward with them.

Now, onto the project itself, and how ConocoPhillips’ Willow project plan has evolved, to where Alternative B, Option 3 makes sense and should be the final EIS determination by BLM.

You’ve heard many of the specifics of this project.  Let me focus on the impact this project will have on energy workers and employment.  2,000 jobs during construction and 300 new full-time jobs will be realized once Willow is approved.  A project this size and scale hasn’t been developed on the Slope since Alpine was constructed nearly 30 years ago.  This is a BIG deal for growing energy jobs in Alaska.  This is a significant opportunity to help families, communities and the state grow and prosper for decades.

Denying the anti-development, eco-extremist crowd their ultimate goals of delaying and obstructing this project is the absolute best way to help Alaska.  Their lies and feelings-over-facts, wildlife-over-human-life testimony aside, Willow IS good for Alaska, IS good for jobs and IS good for our economy.  Please continue with the process, which ultimately will mean paychecks for hundreds of Alaskans.

Again, thank you for taking your time to hold these hearings.  They’ve been done with the utmost of respect, and are appreciated much more than the misguided extremist voices saying “no” to this process and project want you to believe.  I appreciate the ability to put my voice, advocating for thousands of energy workers across this amazing state, on record.