the Willow project

What is the Willow project and the latest news ?

NewsBy Mar 14, 2023

The Joe Biden administration on Monday approved an Alaska oil project known as the ‘Willow Project’, which intends to conduct extensive oil drilling on the North Slope, and has sparked anger among environmentalists. The decision approved by Rep. Mary Peltola was hailed by the Alaska delegation, saying that the people of Alaska were heard. US Senator Lisa Murkowski also applauded the move, saying, “We did it, Alaska!” Environmentalists continue to voice their opposition to the controversial project, but what exactly is the Willow Project and why are they so upset about it?

What Is the Willow Project?

Alaska’s largest crude oil producer, ConocoPhillips, proposed the Willow Master Development Plan in 2017 with the intention of drilling oil inside the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The project would produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil each day at its peak – enough to fill up to 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools per day.

While proponents of the project say that it will bring much-needed economic benefits to Indigenous communities in the region, environmentalists remain highly critical of the project for its potential impacts on climate change and wildlife.

Why Are Environmentalists So Angry?

Environmental activists have spoken out strongly against the project due to its potential impacts on the environment. Scientists have warned that this kind of intense Arctic drilling could increase the risk of spills and air pollution, both of which would be extremely damaging to the local environment.

There have also been concerns raised about the potential impact that the project could have on caribou herds, polar bears, and other Arctic species.

Online Campaigns

Despite major opposition from the climate justice community, including Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic and Alaska Wilderness League, President Joe Biden approved the Willow Oil Drilling Project on Monday. In response to the decision, an online movement consisting of #StopWillow videos has gone viral across social media platforms, gaining an estimated 200+ million views.

Over 2.3 million comments have also been submitted to the White House urging Biden to deny the project and a petition has garnered more than 2.9 million signatures.

Timeline of Events

  • June 2017: ConocoPhillips announces the Willow Master Development Plan.
  • February 2021: Biden Administration signals that it would approve the project in the release of its final environmental impact statement.
  • April 2021: Over 2.3 million new comments submitted to the White House urging Biden to deny the project.
  • May 2021: #StopWillow videos go viral on social platforms with an estimated 200+ million views.
  • June 2021: Joe Biden approves the Willow Oil Drilling Project.
  • 2023: Construction of Willow Project expected to begin.

Impacts on Climate Change

The construction of the Willow Project is expected to begin in 2023, despite widespread criticism from climate scientists and advocates. Environmentalists fear that the large-scale extraction and burning of oil from the project could cause irreversible damage to our climate.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that global warming must be kept below 1.5°C in order to prevent further environmental risks and destruction.

Oil extracted from the Willow project is likely to contain high levels of carbon dioxide, which contributes significantly to global warming. Despite the objections of the climate justice community, the government has ignored their warnings and pressed ahead with the project.

The approval of the Willow Project represents a major setback for the climate justice community and a victory for big oil companies. It symbolizes the inadequacy of current climate policies and our governments willingness to sacrifice the environment for short-term gain. While the project may bring considerable economic benefits to Indigenous communities in the long-term, it will come at the cost of significant environmental destruction and lasting damage to our climate.

It is now down to us, the citizens of Earth, to ensure that our governments face consequences for their decisions. We must work together to pressure them into taking meaningful action to protect our planet and future generations.

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I'm Jonathan, an avid gardener and home décor enthusiast. When I'm not getting my hands dirty in the soil, I'm penning down my experiences and insights for a leading blog on gardening and home decoration. My home reflects my love for greenery and aesthetic design, and through my writings, I aim to inspire others to find the perfect balance between nature and interior design.