The Willow Project: A Rising Concern

A drilling project in Alaska, which has officially been approved, has caused an uproar in the public.

Taylor Patton

The Willow Project is an $8 billion plan to create oil fields in Alaska. President Joe Biden and the Biden Administration has approved the project, but the public eye has an assortment of opinions.

Lawmakers and politicians have referred to the project as balanced and stable, saying that the positive impact outweighs the negative . 180,000 barrels of oil could be produced every day which would lead to taxes that could benefit infrastructure, activities, schools, military, and more. The project would boost the economy through jobs and make over $10 million in revenue. U.S Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, after citizens spoke up about their disapproval, stated, The Willow project has gone through several extraordinarily stringent environmental reviews and will adhere to Alaska’s world-class safety and environmental standards.” Although the government and workers claim it is safe, it may not be for the surrounding wildlife. 

The Willow Project would be the biggest planned oil field in the U.S in decades. Opponents argue that it could cause harm to the surrounding ecosystems. It is possible that nearly 278 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses could be released into the atmosphere over the next 30 years now that the project is approved. The average Utahn produces 19.3 tonnes per year, which means 64 million tonnes are produced by the entire state annually. To equal the Willow Project’s projected gas release, it would take 4.3 consistent years in Utah. The world is already very polluted, and adding more could cause major harm to everyone. 

The pollution, noise, and traffic that will come from the project will affect the nearby  ecosystems. Some U.S. residents have been campaigning against the project, especially those that call the Arctic their home. Alaska is the state with the biggest Native population. Indigenous Alaskans rely on their ecosystem, but the project could take that away. Indigenous Alaskans harvest and consume millions of pounds of wildlife, but the Willow Project puts their way of life at risk. Polar bears are currently at risk for extinction and the project will speed up that process by taking their homes and adding more pollution to the atmosphere. 

Some people feel that President Biden could be making an error by approving the project. Back in 2020 during his presidential campaign, Biden claimed he would end new gas and oil drilling on public lands and waters. “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period,” he said. Since then, his promise has been seen as a lie. Several oil projects have been approved by the Biden Administration, but the Willow Project has gotten the most attention because it is the biggest one so far. 

President Biden’s decision to support the Willow Project could have serious consequences when it comes to the future of the world. All we can do now is wait and see what the outcome will be over the next several decades.