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In the paper, we study the utility-lifetime tradeoff in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) by formulating it as a constrained multi-objective optimization problem. Because of the coupling in the objective function, auxiliary variables are introduced to decouple it. We adopt Lagrange duality method to decompose the problem and regulate the rates through the link congestion price. We introduce the concept of inconsistent coordination price to balance the energy consumption of the sensor nodes. Based on the congestion and inconsistent coordination price, a distributed algorithm using gradient projection is proposed. Numerical results show the convergence of our algorithm, the tradeoff of utility-lifetime as well as the necessity of congestion control in WSNs.