On 13 March, Joe Biden officially approved an oil drilling project by US energy giant ConocoPhillips on Alaska’s North Slope. This oil drilling project is called the Willow Project. Following the approval of the Willow Project, Biden received protests from environmental activists and the public. Biden was seen to have broken his earlier campaign promise to try to tackle global warming and other environmental problems. But why has the Willow Project been so strongly opposed? What exactly is the Willow Project? What are the implications of this large-scale energy project?
The Willow Project is a project under the auspices of leading US energy company ConocoPhillips, which plans to drill for oil in Alaska. The project came under fire immediately after being approved by the President of the United States, Joe Biden. Environmentalists say the project will worsen the damage to the Arctic, which is already experiencing drastic climate change due to global warming.
Icebergs are already melting at an increasing rate. According to the BBC, by the summer of 2020, 3.74 million square kilometres of ice floes had shrunk. This is due to warming temperatures, so the remaining amount will continue to shrink. So what is the impact of this project, which is worsening climate damage in the Arctic?
CNN reports that it is estimated that at least 9.2 million tonnes of carbon pollution will be generated per year, the equivalent of putting 2 million gas-powered cars on the road. Jeremy Lieb, an Alaska-based senior attorney with the legal group Earthjustice, said this is a catastrophic threat to the world’s climate and violates the administration’s promise to address the climate crisis. In addition, these oil drilling projects will accelerate warming temperatures in the Arctic and destroy habitat for native species. It will also change the migration patterns of animals, including caribou.
So why did Biden accept the approval of a project that will only increase climate destruction?
The Willow Project is actually a long-time oil drilling project in the federal government’s National Petroleum Reserve. The project is controversial because the company overseeing it wants to drill on new land. The initial application was for five sites. Biden approved the project after reducing the number of sites to three, with a total of 199 wells. Another reason for approval was that the drilling would provide a new source of revenue and new jobs needed in the remote region.
However, the decision has been criticised after estimates of the impact on the survival of life on the Arctic continent and the worsening of the world’s climate. Wendy Wendlandt, president of the American Environmental Policy Group, said that the Arctic was warming faster than any other part of the world and that the project would be like a carbon explosion for the region.
The controversy continues, with people organising an online petition against the project. A record 5 million people have signed an online petition calling on Biden to keep his promise to solve the world’s climate problems and reject the drilling of the new Willow oil field. Two lawsuits have even been filed against the project. Whatever decision is made, it is hoped that it will not worsen the state of destruction of the earth. The problem of global warming has not even been solved yet. If a project will only worsen the survival of life on Earth, what material benefit is there to be gained if the place where people live is just waiting to perish?