Biden Did the Right Thing on Willow Drilling

A lot of environmentalists are furious over Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to allow some drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. I’m one environmentalist who’s not. Here are my reasons.

It’s called the National Petroleum Reserve. This implies that the area is set aside for oil production. ConocoPhillips has held leases on some of this land for two decades. That meant they had certain legal rights and Biden was advised that refusing to make good on the leases would not hold up in court.

So, with a weak legal hand to play, Biden got the best deal he could. He got the company to accept three drilling sites instead of the five they were entitled to. He also got them to give up leases they already held on 68,000 acres. And Biden will close down another 2.8 million acres in the reserve to future drilling while his Interior Department is looking to close another 23 million acres. Given his weak leverage, Biden should be praised for getting those concessions instead of attacked for what he had to give up.

These guys have more to worry about then limited drilling in the Willow project.

Most indigenous tribes as well as Mary Peltola, the lone congresswoman from Alaska, a Democrat and the first Alaskan Native to be elected to Congress, strongly supported drilling. Does the left respect Native Americans with regard to decisions about their own native lands or not?

When the site produces oil its burning will amount to 9.2 million metric tons a year of carbon pollution. Sounds like a lot, but the U.S. produces 5.6 billion metric tons per year. This is a drop in the bucket.

Biden has done more to fight global climate change than any American president. His major spending bills are full of incentives for electric vehicles, conservation and clean energy projects. It’s likely those initiatives will far surpass any additional greenhouse gasses generated as the result of Willow.

But you can make a case that no new net greenhouse gasses will be released because, if not for Willow, the oil would just come from some other source.

This is good politics. This will help Biden and the Democrats a bit with the independent, moderate, middle class and blue collar voters they need to win back. It provides Biden and key Democrats with some cover if gasoline prices spike again. It’s not that this drilling will be producing oil before the next election or have much impact even if it were, but it takes an argument away from the Republicans. If the Democrats are going to take back the House next time they probably need to hold Peltola’s seat in Alaska and this will help.

Rather than undermining the best president they’ve ever had, the enviros would be far better off explaining to their constituencies why this action was necessary and why, on balance, it’s okay.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

4 thoughts on “Biden Did the Right Thing on Willow Drilling

  1. This is another example of the positive legacy of Biden’s presidency. He pragmatically got what he could with the hand he was dealt. Joe’s experienced, practical, competent and civil. His administration is qualified, stable and scandal-free. He was smart to get his big ticket items out of the way in the first two years, when his party controlled both houses of congress, because he knew that wouldn’t last. He’s brought dignity back to the office and I really can’t think of anything that he’s done that I oppose.
    Having said that, if he is to stay among my personal pantheon of presidents, Joe will announce his retirement soon. This would open up the field so we can pick somebody who will not be almost 82 years old at the next election. You can be certain that whoever the GOP picks will highlight Joe’s age.
    To reiterate something that I, a sports fan, have already noted, I would not want an 82 year old to coach my favorite team. Being president is harder than coaching. It’s time for Joe to retire. If he doesn’t do it voluntarily, I feel like the electorate will do it for him.


  2. These guys have more to worry about then (sic) limited drilling in the Willow project.

    If that’s intended to mean that Ursus Maritimus, a species which has survived countless interglacial periods, is on the very brink of disaster, that just may not be the case.

    To wit: The Last Interglacial (period) Was 8°C/14°F Warmer Than Today The Polar Bears Survived And Greenland Didn’t Melt

    It gets worse.

    Starving Polar Bears Are THE FAKE NEWS Of Climate Change

    (bolds/caps/italics mine throughout)
    “(S)cientists accused National Geographic of ‘being loose with the facts.’ There was no evidence, many pointed out, that the bear’s condition was the result of climate change. The bear simply could have been old, ill, or suffering from a degenerative disease.

    “(NG Videographer Cristina) Mittermeier admitted as much a year later: ‘I CAN’T SAY THAT THIS BEAR WAS STARVING BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, she wrote in National Geographic.

    “Perhaps we made a mistake in NOT TELLING THE FULL STORY-THAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR A PICTURE THAT FORETOLD THE FUTURE and that WE DIDN’T KNOW what had happened to this particular polar bear.”

    A “full story” would include the tsunami of donations it secured, which one could argue was its raison d’être.

    Anywho, and worse yet.

    Dr. Susan Crockford’s life’s work is studying Polar Bears; guess what happened when her findings violated SETTLED SCIENCE?

    An interesting and (IMO) informative read on this is Jim Steele’s Landscapes And Cycles: An Environmentalist’s JOURNEY TO CLIMATE SKEPTICISM

    Liked by 2 people

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