The Biden administration is scrambling to show its approval of ConocoPhillips’ big Willow oil project in Alaska isn’t a break with its climate work, Ben writes.

The big picture: The decision Monday to greenlight Willow has created the biggest rupture between the White House and climate groups of President Biden’s tenure.

  • Some activists are also warning the decision could sap enthusiasm among young, climate-focused voters.

Driving the news: Last night, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland posted a video touting new protections elsewhere in the Arctic.

  • She called Willow a “difficult and complex issue that was inherited” and noted the project is on leases issued by previous administrations. “We had limited decision space,” she said, noting that Interior scaled back the project.
  • An administration official made similar points in remarks circulated to reporters last night.
  • The official said the Willow action came “under considerable legal constraints” and “won’t stop us from achieving the ambitious clean energy goals President Biden has set.”

Quick take: Democratic-aligned green groups like the League of Conservation Voters bashed the decision, but they’ll support Biden in 2024 and pour resources into his reelection effort.

  • But whether Willow could affect turnout of a non-trivial number of young voters who prioritize climate is unknown.
  • The Sunrise Movement said the decision “abandons millions of young people ahead of 2024.”
  • On the other hand, several unions have praised the decision as a job creator.

Zoom in: Politico has a deeper look at the politics of Willow.

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