Joe Biden will prevent or limit oil drilling in 16m acres in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, an administration official said on Sunday.
The announcement, which was expected formally as soon as Sunday evening, came as regulators prepare to announce a final decision on the Willow project, a controversial oil drilling plan pushed by ConocoPhillips.
The official requested anonymity to discuss the conservation effort before it was officially unveiled.
The plan has two parts. First, the official said, Biden will bar drilling in nearly 3m acres of the Arctic Ocean, closing off the rest of its federal waters from oil exploration.
Second, the administration will develop new rules for more than 13m acres in a vast swath of land known as the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.
The official said the area includes the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay special areas.
It was unclear whether the announcement would mollify environmentalists, particularly young activists who have flooded social media with critiques of the Willow project, if the administration ultimately announces it will allow Willow to move forward.
Willow would be the biggest new oil field in decades in Alaska, producing up to 180,000 barrels a day, according to ConocoPhillips.
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