Block the passage of the Willow Project


Photo courtesy of Google Commons

Environmental activists, Alaskans, and Native communities are calling on the Biden Administration to block the Willow Project, a controversial drilling plan that could produce up to 180,000 barrels of crude oil a day. 

Former President Trump approved ConocoPhillips’ six billion dollar pitch back in 2020, but less than a year later, the decision was reversed by an Alaskan Federal Judge due to flaws in the original environmental analysis. 

In February, the Department of Interior adjusted the project to include three oil drilling pads as opposed to the five pads that were originally proposed. However, this will still have grave impacts. 

If approved by Biden, the Willow Project would result in the release of over 250 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere over the next 30 years, and around 9.2 million metric tons each year. This is equivalent to the emissions from ⅓ of all United States coal fired power plants. Additionally, the Willow Project will contribute to more greenhouse gas emissions than any other proposed project on American lands. This will ruin any chance of Biden’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

“While this project only accounts for 1.5% of U.S. oil production, the 9.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide is a significant chunk of U.S. emissions,” said environmental science teacher Mrs. Brittany Laseak. “Producing that much carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas will cause an irreversible increase in temperature.”

Alaska is such a fragile environment that even the average temperature change drastically impacts the area and its inhabitants. Ice melting, including glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice, will accelerate allowing for sea levels to rise. 

Not only do they change the salinity in surface waters, but rising sea levels also erode and destroy wetlands, marshes, and many other coastal habitats and communities. Animals and humans alike will lose their homes and be forced to relocate. 

Proponents claim that the Willow Project will create jobs and allow for investment in native communities, however, the harms of rising sea levels and other hazardous impacts outweigh the potential economic benefits. In fact, the environmental effects will hurt the economy. 

Sea level rise results in a decline of GDP in coastal areas, reduced industrial capital, and flooding. According to a recent study by Science Reports, this could result in damage worth up to 20% of global GDP or 14.2 trillion dollars. 

In addition to Willow’s climate, environmental, and economic impacts, several human health effects remain. Global warming causes frequent heat waves which will exasperate heat stroke and exhaustion, especially in the elderly. Additionally, a warm and moist climate will allow for the growth of bacterial colonies and increase the presence of food, water, and vector-borne diseases. This means that illnesses such as West Nile Virus, malaria, cholera, salmonella, E-Coli, and other diseases will be more prevalent. 

The Biden Administration frequently flaunts their environmental achievements and campaign promises. However, if the so-called “climate change pioneer” approves the Willow Project, not only will he be going back on his campaign promises, but he will also be violating the Paris Climate Agreement, which Biden recently rejoined. 

Greed is a driving force that can and will cause harm, and the greed of ConocoPhillips’ the Biden Administration, and many Americans alike will do irreparable damage to the environment. There is only one Earth, and the passage of Willow will shorten its lifespan. We cannot let greed win. Save our planet and its people and take a stand against the Willow Project.