The Controversial Willow Project


The Willow project has been a controversial topic over the past few months and could lead to devastating environmental and health effects if not overturned. President Biden approved Project Willow on March 13, 2023. This project plans to drill oil from Alaska’s North Slope, land owned by the federal government but controlled by ConocoPhillips. Conoco is an oil company that has been exploring and drilling for oil from Alaska for years. This project would be the biggest oil project in the country, with an estimated cost of $8-$10 billion. It would equal the emissions of adding 2 million gas-powered cars to the roads if completed.

This project breaks promises made by Biden to take action against the climate crisis and end new gas and oil drilling on public water and lands. The Biden administration felt their hands were tied, as Conoco has valid leases in the area, leading Biden to endorse the project.  Biden would also have faced heavy fines and legal action from Conoco if they had chosen to reject or reduce the size of the project. 

The state’s lawmakers support the project, believing it will create new jobs, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and boost the economy. Some Alaska Native groups are also supportive, saying it will create new revenue for their communities and help fund services such as healthcare and education. However, some Native groups are opposed, fearing the environmental and health effects. The project would harm local animal populations, degrade air quality, and add to the climate crisis. 

Climate Activists have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, and are still fighting to overturn Biden’s decision. There has also been an uprising in online activism, resulting in close to three million signatures on a petition. Almost one million letters have been written to the white house, and there have been many protests.  Initial gravel mining and road construction have begun, but it could take years for the oil to reach the market.