by Caleb Rogart
For the past few months, the Biden Administration has been in the process of approving the Willow Project, which would allow ConocoPhillips, a petroleum refineries company, to drill roughly 600 million barrels of oil over the course of three decades. To put that into perspective, that would be about 180,000 barrels in the course of one day.
Many environmental activists, politicians, and civilians have been taken aback and even enraged by the president’s decision to go back on his pledge to limit fossil fuel use and extraction as that promise was a core piece of his entire presidential campaign. In 2019, President Biden said, “I want you to just take a look. I want you to look into my eyes. I guarantee you; I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuel, and I am not going to cooperate with them.” The level of outcry is supported by the fact that almost three million people have added their signature to a Change.org petition to voice their opposition.
Supporters of the project, including Alaskan and federal politicians, along with lobbyists fiercely advocating for the project’s approval, point to the positives, like giving locals job opportunities. They also point out that the project itself offers the American government potential revenues of approximately eight billion dollars.
Those who are against the project, however, are quick to note that with the drilling of oil comes several detrimental dangers to Alaska and the rest of the planet. Ecologically, the drilling would make an impact on the already drastically changing temperatures in Alaska, which have significantly increased the state’s wildfires, while also causing the ice and glaciers levels of the state to shrink. Increased oil drilling can also lead to increased chances of massive oil spills, which can cause irreversible changes to the nearby environment, and lead to a multitude of health issues for both humans and wildlife.
The project is so large, spanning hundreds of miles, that anti-drill activists don’t question if oil drilling will cause damage, but rather how much damage will come with it. They hope that the Willow Project won’t be as destructive as many fear it to be, and that action will be taken to limit the drilling range or end the project completely.