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Let’s Talk About the Willow Project

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

In 2017 a project named the Willow Project proposed to use Alaska as an oil drilling site. It is, by far, the environmental project with the most detrimental effect on the Earth’s climate. One of the biggest issues with it is the lack of knowledge the world seems to have regarding Willow. So, let’s talk about it.


First things first, it’s important to understand how Willow came to be and why it’s so damaging to the Earth’s climate. Willow was created by ConocoPhillips, the largest crude-oil producer in Alaska, in 2017. There has been an abundance of modifications over the last five years, but it has finally been deemed ready to move forward. Willow is set to last 30 years and is expected to produce up to 600 million barrels of oil once the drilling is finished. Not only that, but it will emit around 278 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over the course of 30 years. This is the largest amount of CO2 emissions an environmental project will have released thus far in history. It will damage the Earth’s atmosphere in ways never seen before.

Who Supports Willow?

All lawmakers in Alaska believe Willow to be a step in the right direction. However, it is important to understand their view is economically based. Willow has the ability to create 2000-2500 construction jobs for Alaskan citizens and could produce $8 billion and $17 billion once the project is over. Thus, some Alaskan Indigenous groups believe Willow to be a positive project. There aren’t many high-paying jobs in Alaska and many Alaskan Indigenous groups believe this project will help fund both education and health systems. All this to say, many citizens feel encouraged to vote for Willow’s approval.

Who is Against Willow?

It would seem that a large number of Alaskan citizens, as well as citizens from around the world, are against The Willow Project. It is incredibly necessary to realize that Willow doesn’t just impact the United States. The impact Willow will have on the environment affects every citizen on Earth. Many petitions (some with over 3.1 million signatures) have begun circulating on websites like Change.org all with the hopes of encouraging Joe Biden to vote against the project’s approval. Of course, in addition to the millions of global citizens, many environmental and climate scientists disagree with Willow as well. One thing everyone can seem to agree on is that Willow will destroy both the Earth’s atmosphere as well as a significant amount of life on Earth.

Environmental Impacts

In addition to the CO2 emissions (as if that wasn’t enough), Willow has the potential to destroy a significant amount of land. Obviously, Earth’s land is destroyed when large oil-drilling machines are constructed, and Willow is no different. At the moment, if Willow is approved, three oil machines would be built, each one guaranteed to disrupt the Earth. Willow also has the potential to destroy the habitats of many native animals including Caribou, an animal many Alaskan Indigenous groups rely on.

Will it be Approved?

At the time this article was written (March 9th), the Biden-Harris administration has not made any decisions regarding Willow. Some people believe Biden is leaning towards “no” as the environmental cons seem to outweigh the economic pros. However, no response does not always mean the answer is a positive one.

Biden should come out with his answer in the next coming days or weeks, which means it’s incredibly important to keep yourself updated daily. No matter what the final decision is, the end of The Willow Project seems to be far from over.

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Change.org petitions referenced:



Abigael Chalmers

Wilfrid Laurier '25

Hi! My name is Abby Chalmers (she/her) and I'm a writer for Her Campus WLU. I'm a third-year student at Wilfrid Laurier, majoring in Communication Studies. I enjoy writing about life and love sharing my interests and opinions with others! When I'm not writing, you can most likely find me creating yet another Pinterest board!