Willow Project Draws Controversy


The Willow Project has increased debate about human-made threats to the environment.

Faith Myers, Staff Writer

The Willow Project is a proposal to drill oil and gas on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve. Over 100,000 barrels of oil is planned to be drilled there. Many say it’s going to destroy the Earth, but others argue it will be a good thing. 

On March 13th, the Biden Administration approved the construction for up to 3 drill pads which is approximately 200 oil wells. A lot of opponents of this project point out that this is a betrayal to the country since in Biden’s 2020 campaign he vowed to end new oil and gas drilling on public land and water, but then goes off to approve this. 

For weeks #StopWillow was trending on social media platforms, specifically TikTok. Words such as “disgusting” and “immoral” have been used by people to describe the project.

Over 6 million people have signed multiple petitions and donated money towards putting a stop to the Willow Project. If the project continues, Alaska’s native animals and land will be in more great harm. Over the next 30 years if the amount of oil is produced and released as expected, that is equivalent to over 277 million tons of carbon dioxide being released in the atmosphere.

Due to CO2’s role in climate change, this would likely cause the weather to become warmer. Therefore ice on mountains will melt and cold environments for animals will be destroyed. The Arctic is already warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, and with this it’s only going to melt faster and cause more problems.

80% of Alaska sits on ice and rocks that are usually frozen year round. But since temperatures and co2 levels are rising, the ice will melt causing the ground to sink and shift. The Willow project is being built on top of that ice and rocks(permafrost). All of the drilling pads, gravel roads, and air strips will all be on top of it. With how climate change is evolving, it is not a good idea to continue building.

The project is said to be in construction for around 30 years. By the time the Willow Project is done being built, it would be way past the point climate scientists say we need to stop relying on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels create a big release of nitrogen oxide which helps the formation of acid rain and smog. It creates so much air pollution that eventually some people may have difficulty breathing. When exposed to long term air pollution, risks of disease occur such as heart disease and possibly cancer. 

Some argue that the willow project is actually a good thing. It is creating jobs, increasing domestic energy production, and will lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil. But is that really worth it if it’s just going to kill our animals and eventually our people? This project is only going to release so much planet warming carbon pollution per year. 

Although the Willow Project results in good things, the amount of bad it causes overshines the good. There is a great possibility that continuing moving forward may harm the planet greatly.