Biden Passes The Willow Project: An Environmental Threat

Written By: Katherine Balbin

The Willow Project was approved by the Biden Administration on March 13, 2023. The extensive oil drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, a costly 8 billion dollar project, will extract millions of barrels of oil from Alaska. 

The project was originally proposed by ConocoPhillips, a petroleum refineries company, and approved by the Trump Administration back in 2020. According to CNN, the original plan was for ConocoPhillips to create five drill pads, but the Biden Administration reduced it to three pads.

 However, three drill pads instead of the planned five won’t make a difference since they will still be extracting 90% of the oil. During president Biden’s campaign, he made a pledge to stop drilling for the extraction of oil. According to Poynter, during his campaign Biden said, “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends.” He approved the Willow Project, breaking his pledge.

The Willow Project will bring devastating impacts to the climate as well as the ecosystems in Alaska by putting animals at risk because of the destruction of their habitats. The reserve they are planning to drill is home to polar bears, oxen, caribou and birds. In addition, the living area of Alaskan Natives will be disrupted, particularly the city of Nuiqsut, the closest city to the reserve. Alaskan Natives living in Nuiqsut will bear the consequences of the drilling first. According to Aljazeera, the project will emit 239 million metric tons of carbon pollutants into the atmosphere across 30 years. 

Environmental activism has spiked across the US in response to the Willow Project. According to ABC News, Tik Tok has been spreading awareness and generating petitions resulting in over a million letters being sent to the White House to halt the project. Over four million people have signed the multiple petitions that have been created. The “WillowProject” hashtag alone has over 400 million views. Additionally, the non-profit environmentalist group, “Earthjustice” and the Natural Resources Defense Council have filed a lawsuit against the project. It appears that the group will battle the case against the Biden Administration in court to stop Willow Project from going forward.

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