What is the Willow Project?


Manuel Ernst

Biden Administration Weighs Approval of $8 Billion Willow Oil Drilling Initiative In Alaska. Willow Project Picture is by Manuel Ernst and licensed under Creative Commons License.

Paige Berry, Writer

By the time you finish reading this sentence 170,000 tons of sea ice has already melted away. That’s climate change. The Willow Project is going to make climate change worse. The Willow Project is a plan that will be based in Alaska and run by ConocoPhillips. The company started this project by saying that their involvement would address inflation and energy costs. While that may be true, the Willow Project has many downsides. 

This project will produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, making the company produce 1.5% of the world’s oil. This means that the project will be drilling nearly 3 million acres of the Arctic Ocean. Using the oil from the Willow Project can cause a big problem. Climate advocates and scientists have found that even with a few drilling sites the project will produce the equivalent of more than 263 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over the project’s 30-year life (ConocoPhillips’ proposed timeline for Willow). Research shows that in 20 to 30 years, the arctic could be all gone, but because of the Willow Project that lifetime of the Arctic would decrease.

Amidst the public outcry, there are supporters of this oil development project. A widespread number of supporters from Alaska have said that communities would benefit from the taxes that are created by the Willow Project. CNN reported that “This should be an easy decision. The administration has made combating climate change a priority, while also acknowledging that the transition to cleaner energy will take time. In the meantime, we need oil, and compared to the other countries we can source it from, we believe Willow is by far the most environmentally responsible choice.” 

On the other side of things, lots of people are also against the Willow Project. In 2022, President Biden had promised to end new oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Environmental activists have been vocal on social media looking to remind the Commander in Chief of his promises to lower the greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy. The Center for American Progress Director of Public Lands’ Jenny Rowland-Shea called the approval a “mistake,” saying “the project is a climate disaster that benefits the oil industry at the cost of everyday Americans [and] puts the local community and the Native village of Nuiqsut at risk while threatening the sensitive Arctic environment.”

The Arctic is already heating up 4 time faster than the rest of the world and the oil drilling will only make it worse. Not only that, but it would lead to wildlife like polar bears, reindeer, snowy owls, and more losing their homes.