Opinion: The Willow Project


Mia Risolia

The Willow Project sparks controversy among environmental policy.

The Willow Project is a monumental and continuous oil drilling endeavor located on Alaska’s North Slope, in the federal government’s National Petroleum Reserve.

The project is designed to hold up to 600 million barrels of oil. The approval of the Willow Project has received significant objection. In a change.org petition, they received over three million signatures and over one million letters to be sent to the White House in protest of the project. 

Conoco Phillips originally proposed the Willow Project, which was approved by the Trump administration in 2020. Initially, the project was allowed to assemble five drill pads; however, the Biden administration reduced it to three. The three pads will drill 90% of the oil the company is seeking. 

Since the Biden administration has continued to place the project into effect, the public has spoken out on several social media platforms, and advertised petitions to end the project. 

The Willow Project will majorly affect our climate and environment Only a week following the project’s approval, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conducted a study that discovered “…the world’s governments are currently veering off track from their pledges to keep global average temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius,” stated by nrdc.org

The chance to save our Earth is rapidly closing due to the endorsement of the Willow Project. The project will contribute to the drastic rise of sea levels and extreme heat waves which could kill millions and millions of people by the end of this century.

How do we prevent these horrible effects? Ending the burning of fossil fuels–the exact opposite of what our government is doing right now. 

The Biden Administration even admitted, when finished, Willow will produce up to 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year. We are risking “532 acres of wetlands, 619 acres of habitat disturbances for polar bears, and more than 17,000 acres of such disturbances for birds,” according to nrdc.org. For what? Our economy? Our economy will not matter when our earth is exponentially heating up, and our environment is deteriorating.

Instead of solely focusing on our nation’s economy, our government should be saving our earth. Our lives are all in their hands, and they have proven time and time again that money is at the forefront of their minds. 

If our government focused more on conserving our planet, our accessibility of our natural resources would increase which naturally improves our nation’s economy. They are focused on our short-term finance, rather than our long-term future on Earth. 

However, The Biden Administration would have lost in court holding up the federal land, therefore; they approved the project. Although, they did make negotiation to lighten the detrimental effects the Willow Project would have.  

Zoe Hein, sophomore, shared her feelings about the Willow Project’s effect on society. 

“It is absolutely ridiculous that they are more concerned about collecting oil and money than watching out for future generations,” Hein said. 

277 million tons of carbon dioxide will be released into our atmosphere within the next 30 years if Willow produces as much oil as expected as provided by carnegieendowment.org

“[The willow project] is causing our planet to rapidly collapse and lose species much faster,” Hein said. “Arctic species will lose more of their habitat and will end up closer to human civilizations.”

Nature and wildlife will suffer from oil drilling, not just humans. Our government is making decisions based on our nation’s economy, not our safety. Proceeding with the Willow Project not only puts our safety at risk, but the lives of our future generations compromised. The drilling of oil will destroy the natural beauty of our earth, and as young members of society, we have to speak up to protect our home and future descendants.