For more than three weeks, the Alaska Native Village of Nuiqsut, Congressional Democrats, and conservation groups have been urging the Department of the Interior to extend the public comment period on a draft environmental impact statement for one of the largest proposed onshore oil and gas development projects in the United States. If approved, the ConocoPhillips venture, known as the Willow Project, would allow for construction of up to 250 wells, a network of gravel roads and pipelines, and a new central processing facility in the government-managed National Petroleum Reserve, about 35 miles west of Nuiqsut.
Democrats in the House of Representatives had asked for a response to their letter requesting an extension by July 22, but the Interior Department missed that deadline, Grist reported last week. Environmental groups hoped for an answer in advance of several public meetings on the draft environmental statement, the first of which took place Monday evening. They also still haven’t heard back.
The city of Nuiqsut, however, got an answer from the Interior Department on Friday. According to three sources with direct knowledge of the correspondence, t... Read more