On March 13th, 2023, President Biden approved the Willow Project, the most extensive oil and gas development proposal, breaking his 2020 campaign commitment to end drilling on public land and put resources towards renewable energy. Drilling will occur in Alaska’s North Slopes, estimated to produce 278 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over 30 years.
Crude oil producer ConocoPhillips introduced the Willow Project in 2020, which the Trump Administration approved. However, in 2021, the federal judge stopped the project from continuing.
Social media, specifically TikTok, has paid much attention to the Willow Project in the past few weeks. However, its positive and negative impacts have been in conversation for years. Many people, specifically Gen Z and environmentalists, criticize President Biden’s decision to approve Willow. The climate impact of Willow is tremendous, causing immediate harm to wildlife and the surrounding communities. It is also causing damage in the long term for the planet. Alaska’s North Slopes are not new to oil drilling, and residents have already complained about air pollution from drilling, causing health issues. In December 2021, Biden signed an executive order to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050. The approval of Willow is not helping Biden achieve this.
The Willow Projects’ effects on the planet are incredibly problematic and terrible. However, some say approval of the Willow Project is needed. Oil drilling is an enormous part of Alaska’s economy, and they sustain themselves. In 2023, approximately 7,400 people in Alaska will work in the oil and gas industry. Meaning that thousands of people’s livelihoods depend on the industry. Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native member in Congress and Democrat, supported the Willow Project because of revenue to “pay for essential state services like public safety and investments in our education system.”
Taking a stance on whether approving the Willow Project was right or wrong is difficult since its revenues will support the people of Alaska’s daily life. Still, it will also impact the people of Alaska and the world negatively, short-term and long-term, in environmental aspects.
Ambler, a village in Alaska, is taking steps to combat the release of fossil fuels into the environment by switching to renewable energy. With this switch, they are saving money that can go into investing in the village and positive environmental impacts. Steps like this are crucial to reducing one’s carbon footprint.
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- Alaska’s Willow oil project is controversial. Here’s why.
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- The Willow Project has been approved. Here’s what to know about the controversial oil-drilling venture
- Why More Alaskans Aren’t Fighting a Huge Potential Oil Project on the North Slope
- Federal judge rejects Trump-era permits for major Alaska oil project
- January 2023 Alaska Economic Trends
- How an Alaska village’s switch to renewable energy helps local Native economies