By Felicia Caruntu
On March 13, 2023, President Biden and his administration approved the Willow Project.
Here’s what you need to know…
What is the Willow Project?
The Willow Project is a massive 6 billion dollar oil draining project, an attempt to retrieve approximately 600 million barrels worth of oil. The project’s area is located within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, where drilling will begin in early 2027. This project was originally started by ConocoPhillips, a large energy company and first approved by President Trump in 2020. The original plan was to build 5 five drill pads, but with the Biden administration it was reduced to 3. Although some other adjustments have been made since the original proposal, the project’s environmental impact continues to be massive, threatening wildlife and nature preservation.
What are the motivations of this project?
Now you may be wondering, why would a project with such a negative impact be created? Well, other than an attempt to retrieve oil, the Willow Project is said to create jobs, become a source of revenue for some Alaskan Native groups in the area and is believed by Alaskan government officials to introduce a new source of oil production for the state.
Many groups oppose this project, including the Alaskan natives living in the area who are directly affected by this. According to Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangarua of the city Nuiqsut, the residents of this village would experience many negative health effects from the drilling, as well as destruction of their homes. Many other environmental activist groups from around the world have been protesting against the Willow Project, becoming one of the largest protests we have ever seen concerning an environmental issue.
Gen Z have also been very vocal on this issue, many of whom originally wanted to vote for the Biden administration in 2020 after their promise to reduce carbon emissions. As a result, this issue has been also extremely popular on many social media platforms, with educational videos, recent information on protests and petitions being posted- with the biggest petition on change.org reaching over 2.8 million signatures.
What can we do?
While the situation is grave, all hope is not lost. It is important to remember that our voices have so much power and we must use them for the greater good. Gen Z has already publicized so many social issues and had a large positive impact, so it is important we don’t give up and continue to fight. The oil drilling commences in 2027, so we still have time to make our voices heard and advocate for our future.
Here are some things we can still do:
Continue to sign the change.org petition. Engagement on this project has been huge, let’s try to make it even bigger. Change.org petition
Send a personalized message to President Biden and Secretary Haaland at the White House. One message is one more voice speaking on this issue and one more person fighting for change.
Educate yourself. Reading this article is a great start, but there is so much more we can learn on this issue. You can get more information from podcasts and articles from CNN or the NY Times.
Thank you for reading this article. Stay tuned for more articles on climate change and modern politics.
Sources (other than ones linked in article):