US President, Joe Biden has approved a major oil and gas drilling project in Alaska that faced strong opposition from environmental activists.
The company behind the Willow project, ConocoPhillips, says it will create local investment and thousands of jobs.
But the $8bn proposal faced a torrent of online activism in recent weeks, particularly among youth activists on TikTok.
Opponents argued it should be halted over its climate and wildlife impacts.
Located on Alaska’s remote North Slope, it is the largest oil development in the region for decades and could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day.
According to US Bureau of Land Management estimates, that means it will generate up to 278 million metric tonnes of CO2e over its 30-year lifetime – the equivalent of adding two million cars to US roads every year.
CO2e is a unit used to express the climate impact of all greenhouse gases together, as if they were all emitted as carbon dioxide.
Monday’s announcement will allow only three drill sites for the project instead of the five that were initially proposed – a compromise of sorts with anti-Willow activists.
The approval also comes one day after the Biden administration imposed limits on oil and gas drilling in 16 million acres of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.
Environmentalists had argued Willow is inconsistent with President Biden’s pledges to lead on climate action.