Oil production equipment appears on Spy Island, an artificial island in state waters of Alaska’s Beaufort SeaInternationalIndiaAfricaWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US Interior Department said on Monday that it is approving three out of five drill sites proposed by ConocoPhillips as part of its Willow Master Development Plan in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. “The Record of Decision denies two of the five drill site pads proposed by ConocoPhillips, reducing the project’s drill pads by 40%,” the Interior Department said in a statement. “[The actions] significantly scale-back the Willow Project within the constraints of valid existing rights under decades-old leases issued by prior administrations.” The Biden administration’s decision to grant partial approval to the energy development project comes despite objections by environmental activists, who cite concerns about potential climate impacts by drilling activities.The reduction of the plan’s scope reduces its freshwater use and eliminates infrastructure that could impact caribou migration and subsistence users, the statement said. The actions also create an additional buffer from exploration and development activities near the calving grounds and migratory routes of nearby caribou, the statement said.AmericasBye Green Joe, Hello Alaskan Oil? Biden May Prefer Economic Issues to His Election Pledges: Experts07:04 GMTIn addition, President Joe Biden will take action to designate approximately 2.8 million acres in the Arctic Ocean nearshore the NPR-A as “indefinitely off limits” for future oil and gas leasing, the statement said.”The President and the Biden-Harris administration continue to deliver on the most aggressive climate agenda in American history, including the creation of clean energy manufacturing and jobs,” the statement said. “And his economic agenda has put the United States back on track to reach its climate goals for 2030 and 2050 all while reducing America’s reliance on oil.”A district court had tasked the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with reviewing the Master Development Plan after it identified flaws in the Trump administration’s approval of a development plan. BLM had consulted with eight cooperating agencies as well as with local and external stakeholders, consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act, the statement said.The Wilderness Society, an environmental advocacy organization focused on preserving wilderness and public lands, released a statement calling the Biden administration’s decision “disappointing and unconscionable.”The Biden administration’s decision will accelerate climate change and harm local indigenous communities in opposition to its stated goals, the statement said.