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Alaska oil lease draws fire from climate community, support from Susan Collins

This Feb. 9, 2016, photo shows ice forming on pipelines built near the Colville-Delta 5, or as it's more commonly known, CD5, drilling site on Alaska's North Slope. ConocoPhillips in October 2015 became the first to drill for oil in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a region the size of Indiana set aside by President Warren G. Harding in 1923.
Mark Thiessen
/
AP
This Feb. 9, 2016, photo shows ice forming on pipelines built near the Colville-Delta 5, or as it's more commonly known, CD5, drilling site on Alaska's North Slope. ConocoPhillips in October 2015 became the first to drill for oil in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a region the size of Indiana set aside by President Warren G. Harding in 1923.

The Biden administration's approval Monday of a large new oil drilling project in Alaska is drawing fire from the climate community, but is getting support from Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

The $8 billion ConocoPhillips project is sited in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. The company says it could produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day. The environmental group Earthjustice says it would produce 260 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of driving 56 million cars for one year.

A statement from Sen. Collins' press office read, "As high energy prices continue to impose crushing burdens on America’s working families, Senator Collins understands the Biden Administration’s decision to reapprove the Willow project in Alaska. Our country needs to increase its domestic production of energy."

Collins noted that the project has received strong bipartisan support from Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Senator Angus King's office did not comment on the decision, and representatives Golden and Pingree did not respond by late Monday.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.