The Willow Project

The Willow Project is a controversial 6-billion-dollar oil drilling project idea for Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden Administration’s partial approval of this project will have both economic and environmental ramifications.

The Willow Project was proposed by ConocoPhillips, an energy company. This company currently has two smaller oil drilling operations in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve where the Willow Project will be carried out. Under pressure due to existing land leases, the Biden Administration was not legally able to stop the project and approved three of the five proposed pad sites, therefore reducing the carbon footprint of the project. Woodgrove Government teacher Diana Shea explains that the compromise made by the Biden Administration has caused discontent for both parties, which is resulting in lawsuits. 

Environmental groups have begun to take legal action concerning the protection of Alaska’s resources, effects on local Alaskan Natives, and the project’s contribution to carbon pollution. Mrs. Shea says, “Some fear this will decrease the United States’ desire to shift towards ‘clean energy.’” The Willow Project could disrupt habitats and migration patterns of native animals, produce over 9 million metric tons of carbon pollution every year, and harm the land and health of nearby Natives.

The project does not only cause environmental hazards. It also impacts the political aspects in the US. “The complicated aspect of [the Willow Project] is that the world isn’t green yet, so the world is buying these fossil fuels. If those countries buy from Venezuela or Russia, those countries aren’t under the environmental constraints we have in the US,” says Environmental Teacher Mrs. Katheryn Gemmer. Meanwhile, the project’s proponents highlight job creation and increased domestic energy production, as well as potential revenue for groups on the North Slope. 

With pros and cons resulting from this ordeal, Ms. Shea explains, “The project could have a big impact on the global economy.  Russia, Iran, and various OPEC nations rely heavily upon fossil fuels to support their economy. This will leave countries with oil-dependent economies facing greater economic challenges with the loss in revenue. This could weaken countries like Russia politically.”



An offshore oil drill. Photo provided by Creative Commons.
President Biden after giving a speech. Photo provided by Creative Commons.
A pelican covered in oil. Photo provided by Creative Commons.