Biden Administration Approves Willow Project


(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Sophie Sun, Reporter

Crude oil company ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project, a massive oil drilling project in Alaska, was recently approved by the Biden administration despite the huge environmental consequences of the project. 

After its approval, the Biden administration faced much blowback from indigenous, environmental and student activists alike—online petitions and social media campaigns arose in response.

The state claims that the Willow Project will generate thousands of jobs, boost domestic energy production and lessen reliance on foreign oil. It is estimated that the project will generate enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year. 

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said “[Alaska is] now on the cusp of creating thousands of new jobs, generating billions of dollars in new revenues…and improving quality of life.” 

Through the Alaska Permanent Fund, an investment fund that invests surplus revenue from oil and gas reserves into annual dividends for eligible Alaskan citizens, the Willow Project will also directly benefit each Alaskan citizen and help revitalize the US economy.

However, beyond the Willow Project’s projected economic benefits, it is clear that the project will also cause much harm to Alaska’s valuable environment. 

AP Environmental Science teacher Marie Kuhn explained that when these operations are set up, people end up building roads, infrastructure and pipelines that disrupt the pristine environment and disturb wildlife. 

“They have their migration patterns, they have their feeding grounds, they have their reproducing areas and now we’re just going to build roads and infrastructure in those areas,” Kuhn said. “It’s alarming because it’s adding to our climate crisis. It will impact animals that live in the area, and it’s disrupting pristine parts of the Earth that we really want to preserve.”

The project has divided Native Alaskans into two sides—on one hand, the project will create jobs and bring an influx of funding for schools, public service and infrastructure in Native communities. 

On the other hand, the project will infringe upon Native Alaskan land, bringing cultural loss and health complications to communities situated near the drilling site.

Kuhn’s advice is this: “If it’s going to happen, the main thing we can do is speak with our vote. We want to continue to support candidates that are promoting green energy that are embracing the fact that we are in a climate crisis and that’s the strongest thing we have right now is our vote.”