Why Americans are Weary of the Willow Project

Why Americans are Weary of the Willow Project

Delaney Green, Staff Writer - The Mustang Messenger

Have you heard about the Willow Project? It’s a recent project being proposed by leading oil company ConocoPhillips to create a new oil drilling site. Environmentalists are seeing this plan as a great threat to the wildlife in Alaska. This has been a very controversial topic in the media recently. To be more specific about the project, it’s a six-billion dollar proposal to drill oil and gas in Northern Alaska. The project would be executed in the Natural Petroleum Reserve.

ConocoPhillips sees this as an opportunity to bring in new jobs and collect useful fossil fuels, but at what cost? The truth behind this seemingly good project is, it will have just as many (if not more) disadvantages for the planet. MCHS student journalist Charlee Samuelson stated, “Alaska is one of the only places in our country that has gone untouched. It’s been so greatly preserved. This oil drilling project would destroy the environment of these animals.” It will inevitably add on to our Earth’s man-made destruction. It is estimated that it could create around 9.2 million tons of planet-warming pollution per year. It is said that this project’s pollution would be equivalent to that of 76 coal-fired power plants. Matteae Mrkusic, a policy lead for the environmentalism channel “Evergreen Action”, stated the following:

 “The Arctic is actually warming four times faster than the rest of the world, and the Willow Project could make it so much worse.”

This project would also contribute to the melting of the state’s solid ground. This is another great concern, which should be made obvious by just considering the name of the ground itself; permafrost. “Perma” meaning permanent. Permafrost is what makes up 80% of Alaska’s surface. It is meant to be extremely stable, but these potential rising temperatures would cause this ground to move, melt, shift, and sink. The population of many native Alaskan animals would be put in danger. The cold ground they depend on would be destroyed. Not only the increasing heat, but also the noise, traffic, oil spills, and increasing human population will disturb them, driving them away from their homes and oftentimes leaving them to die. 

Many Americans are concerned as president Joe Biden so far seems to be very supportive of the drilling project, but fortunately those in his administration have not seemed so on board. Allowing it to go through would also be out of line with his climate commitment to cut America’s carbon pollution in half by 2030. Furthermore, it would have to be approved by the Bureau of Land Management in order to be enacted, but if Biden decides to use his executive authorities, the entire project could quickly be officially rejected.