The Willow Master Development Plan (Project) is a proposed oil and gas development project in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska led by ConocoPhillips. In 2020, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project and approved the Project for development. In 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska vacated BLM’s approval of the Willow Project for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response, BLM prepared a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) and subsequently re-approved the Project with fairly minor modifications. In March 2023, Plaintiffs challenged BLM's approval of the SEIS for violating NEPA, the ESA, the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
We filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in support of Plaintiffs to provide reasons supporting vacatur if the Court grants summary judgment to Plaintiffs. Our brief explains that the Project’s climate damages are extensive under BLM’s estimates—and likely far larger, since BLM’s practices produce underestimates. Our brief also explains that the Project will partially displace energy production in other regions and thereby reduce the royalties, tax revenues, and employment associated with energy production in those regions.
In January 2024, we filed our amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after the Plaintiffs appealed the district court's decision in favor of BLM.