The Willow Project

By: Lauren Kottke & Ella Sutherland

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Climate change seems to be the problem in the world that is growing bigger every year. Every couple of months and years a new problem emerges surrounding the topic of climate change. Water levels are rising, species of different animals are going extinct, the ozone layer is heating up, and the trash in the ocean is growing by the second. And it doesn’t seem like the problem is going to be fixed anytime soon. The new environment talk is about The Willow Project.

The Willow Project is an oil drilling venture which was just passed by the Biden administration. Oil drilling is a very wealthy business in the United States and across the world. Oil is necessary for everyday life like heating buildings and creating electricity, but the downside of oil drilling is that it severely damages our planet. It releases toxic gasses into the atmosphere and oftentimes chemicals are disposed of into water. Oil spills aren’t uncommon for oil drilling sites, and are very damaging. They hurt the environment and animals in that area.

The project had been an issue in the White House for months with much debate. The Biden administration did not necessarily want to pass the project, but had no choice. Conoco, the company leading The Willow Project, already had existing leases on the land. Also, the project was already approved by the Trump administration back in 2020 which made it harder for them to deny Conoco.

This whole project will take up to 30 years, with a total cost of $8 billion dollars. Originally, Conoco wanted to build five oil drilling sites, but the Biden administration negotiated for three sites. Even still, with two less sites, Conoco will be able to retrieve 90% of the oil.

Although the project was approved, it might not mean that they can start construction right away. There are many groups trying to stop the project from proceeding. One in particular is EarthJustice, who have filed a complaint against the company. The goal for them is to get an injunction which then will put the project on hold. This is very important because if they can stop the project for now, they can stop it for a year. The timing of building the oil sites is crucial because of the seasons in Alaska. Winter is expected to be done by mid April. And that is the perfect time for Conoco to start construction.

Another reason why the Willow Project is not a very positive thing is the environmental side effects. It can speed up global warming as well as severely alter many animal’s habitats and migration patterns. Just a few of the species that would be greatly affected by this project are the Teshekpuk caribou herd, polar bears, and migratory birds.

With all this being said there are a couple positives to this project. First off, this project would need many people working on it and would provide almost 2,500 jobs for people in construction, as well as around 300 long-term jobs.

Secondly, it would help Alaska’s economy and tax revenues. Willow could provide up to 10 billion dollars when all is finished.

Overall, the cons weigh out the pros by quite a bit and the Willow Project will do more harm than good. This project has many side effects and in our opinion this should never have been approved.

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