Opinion: The Frightening Effects of the Willow Project

An Alaskan drilling operation holds the potential for an environmental disaster.



Many protests such as the one pictured are happening just outside the White House.

Lauren Lentz, Staff Writer

Many are aware that the Willow Project is an ongoing oil drilling operation in Alaska, but fewer are aware of the operation’s long-term implications.

First created and brought up in 1999, the Willow Project has been tentative until just recently. In 2020, the Willow Project was permitted by the Trump Administration, but no action was taken at that time. 

On March 13, 2023, however, the Biden Administration gave the controversial project its official approval to take place and begin in 2027. It will be led by ConocoPhillips and it will cost about $8 billion.

This project is supposed to be the single largest oil extraction project that has been planned on public lands, according to Protect Our Winters. The project is said to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than any other oil operation on public lands in America.

The Alaskan North Slope will be the location of this enormous endeavor, with the oil to be stored at the National Petroleum Reserve, where it is said to hold about 600 million barrels of the oil that is extracted. This project will last about 30 years and could possibly produce roughly 576 million barrels of oil, according to The Washington Post.

The operation angers many environmentalists and climate activists and it could deeply affect everyone in the nation. Many popular brands and celebrities are speaking up and are expressing their opinions through social media by posting about it. 

Big brands such as Ben and Jerry’s have spoken out about this nationwide issue. (Twitter)

First and foremost, this project is extremely damaging to the ecosystems in Alaska and will create a negative environmental impact overall. Not only will it greatly harm and affect the environment, but it will also contribute to global warming. 

This project will negatively affect the arctic wildlife and even the people living in Alaska. It will destroy habitats and can potentially even lead to the extinction of polar bears, said Defenders of Wildlife, as it greatly threatens and dismantles their environment.

As reported by CNN, the project will release about 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution a year, affecting our current climate crisis and making it worse.

However, there are some restrictions on the Willow Project that Biden is expected to institute. These restrictions should help ease the concerns that many may have pertaining to the negative environmental effects. 

Stated by The New York Times, these restrictions include limiting future oil leases in the region, protecting more than 13 million acres in the region from future drilling, with protections extending to habitats important to the many different kinds of wildlife such as grizzly bears, whales, seals and more living in the area.

The Willow Project has sparked protests across the country, including at the White House and the communities near where Willow Project will occur. Not only have people been protesting this controversial oil operation, but they also have been creating petitions to raise money and awareness, hoping to help put an end to it. 

According to CBS News, many have been using the hashtag #StopWillowcampaign to promote and spread awareness on social media. 

In the end, many people are hoping to stop the Willow Project altogether, for the sake of our future.