Opinion: Project Willow is a new low

The Willow Project, which will take place in Alaska’s remote North slope, is projected to be fruitful after decades. This project is detrimental to nearby communities and the environment. 

This is an $8 billion project, proposed by ConocoPhillips, that will produce 180,000 barrels of oil a day with an overall  projected output of 600 million barrels. This project was approved on Mar. 13, 2023

According to CNN, state lawmakers believe the Willow Project will increase job growth in Alaska greatly, boost domestic energy production and lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil.

While the job increase is inherent to creating any project, the jobs that Project Willow will create will slowly contribute to a future where both people and animals will be significantly harmed. 

Project Willow puts a bandaid on the problem we have currently: the US needs to convert to a better energy source. The boost in domestic energy production that will result from the increase in gas supplies.

Benefits of an unknown amount of job growth do not outweigh the problems that this will cause: the inevitable lack of dependence on oil, harm done to the Native people in Alaska, and harm to the environment.

The constant increase of oil production perpetuates American reliance on oil. Moreover, the oil being produced will not enter the market until 20-40 years later because this is a decades-long project. 

There are already alternative energy sources  being implemented to help lessen gas production. The Light-Duty Zero Emission (ZEV) Sales Requirement states that all sales on vehicles in California will be electric starting from 2035. 

By the time we are able to use oil from this project, the need won’t be as prevalent. With pushes on electric cars, specifically in California, it seems counterintuitive to be producing more oil after we’ve decreased our use of it. 

In the 2020 election, the Biden administration promised to stop oil drilling.

“No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, ” Biden said in the 2020 presidential debate when talking about his climate crisis plan

The Willow Project proves Biden’s failure to keep that promise. 

A massive petition has occurred; the #StopWillow campaign, starting on TikTok and spreading on other social media platforms,  garnered young supporters. 

Alaska senator, Senator Lisa Murkowski, said Alaska’s Native leaders are in support, but according to AP News, it is specifically the Native leaders who have financial ties to oil production who support the project. 

Siqiniq Maupin, the executive director of the Sovereign Iñupiat for a group representing Indigenous Arctic communities, stated that the impact of the Willow Project will hurt Native communities and contribute to climate change.

The Arctic is warming almost four times quicker than the rest of the world according to PBS.

Oil drilling will further exacerbate this problem.

The current burning of fossil fuels and drilling itself is leading to climate change. Drilling specifically causes climate change because when oil or gas is extracted, the space is replaced with water, which cannot insulate heat from earth’s core efficiently.

The push to put this project in place exemplifies the issue encountered: our climate crisis is worsening, native communities continue to be mistreated and companies are impartial as long as money can be made.