As nation celebrates Earth Day, a major climate decision looms for Joe Biden

CPV power plant operates in Woodbridge N.J.

The gap between the scale of the global warming crisis and the president’s initiatives seemed wider than ever on Earth Day.

Om February 1, 2022, Sen. Joe Manchin declared that President Joe Biden’s sweeping environment bill is “dead,” ending any hope for revival of the Democrats’ top domestic priorities.

While Biden issued an executive order to expand federal protections for communities historically overburdened by pollution, ecology activists are concerned that his administration is about to announce one of its most consequential climate decisions yet as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighs how to regulate power plants that contribute a quarter of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.

The Biden administration has consistently placated the oil and gas industry, such as the approval of the Willow project—a massive, $8 billion ConocoPhillips oil drilling operation on federally protected land on the North Slope of Alaska’s Brook Range—that environmental groups called “climate sabotage.”

Lawsuits from environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as by Earthjustice on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Defenders of Wildlife and Greenpeace, tried to stop the project, but a federal judge denied their motion.

ConocoPhillips, a multinational fossil fuel company with headquarters in Houston, has been drilling in Alaska for decades. Currently, the company owns and manages the only extant drilling operations within the 37,000-square-mile National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), the federally owned parcel of land on the state’s North Slope.

As the home to half a million caribou and a crucial nesting ground for millions of migratory birds, the NPR-A is of major ecological significance. It also happens to be the single-largest tract of undisturbed public land in the country. In a corner of Alaska that’s already suffering from coastal erosion, melting sea ice, and thawing permafrost, the Biden administration is now consenting to the extraction of huge amounts of oil that would ultimately make these problems worse

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