Alaskan oil-drilling Willow Project draws increased protests


Despite growing protests against the Alaskan oil drilling Willow Project, the Biden administration has approved it continuation.

The Willow Project, a decades long oil drilling project by ConocoPhillips on the North Slope Alaska, has been coming under increased scrutiny lately. Located in the National Petroleum Reserve, the project is subject to government approval and regulation. A sudden surge in calls to halt the project has resulted in petitions against the project amassing over three million signatures.

Many individuals have expressed concern about the possibility of global warming, ecosystem collapse, and the extinction of animals as a result of the Willow Project. 

Olympic Heights AP Environmental teacher Ms. Amie Goldfarb, commenting on the environmental impact of the project, stated, “I think we need to reduce our reliance on oil, but this could be an opportunity to stop relying on foreign oil.”

ConocoPhillips is a Houston-based energy company that is focused on exploring and drilling oil in Alaska. The willow project was originally approved by the Trump administration in 2020. 

Individuals are upset with the Biden administration because during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to end new oil drilling projects on government-owned lands. The pause on such drilling was ended in 2021 by a federal judge.

“The Biden administration felt its hands were tied with the project because Conoco has existing and valid leases in the area,” two government sources told CNN.

Due to legal issues, there is no set date for the Willow Project’s completion. According to Earthjustice, an environmental law group, a complaint will be filed against the project shortly. Due to the need for ice roads in building the project’s infrastructure, the Willow Project is currently fighting to put down grounds being that it can only begin in the winter. 

Jeremy Lieb, an Alaska-based senior attorney for Earthjustice, previously told CNN,

“We and our clients don’t see any acceptable version of this project, we think the [environmental impact] analysis is unlawful.” 

In addition to concern over the long-term effects of the Willow Project on the United States, many others are concerned about the impact it would have on the world as a whole. 

Noah Gordon, acting co-director of the Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics Program, wrote in article on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website, “If Willow produces as much oil over thirty years as expected, the consumption of that oil will release the equivalent of 277 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Protests are increasing as a result of the Willow Project while lawmakers claim it will “will create jobs, boost domestic energy production, and lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil.”

Thousands of individuals have used TikTok to voice their concerns regarding the Willow Project. The Biden administration received one million letters urging it to halt the Willow project. Those efforts have proven fruitless as Biden approved the continuation of the Willow Project on March 13.