“The Willow Project” is a term that has been circulating since late March of this year and has been taking social media by storm. The debates are centered around the Biden administration’s recent approval of an oil drilling project taking place in Alaska, which has caused an outcry among environmentalists. The activists’concern is rooted in how the endeavor can add to the already concerning climate change as well as damaging the natural beauty of Alaska. It begs the question of if this Willow Project is actually worth the trouble for more oil supplies.
The project, approved on March 13th, is to take place in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the northern slope of the state. The reserve is 23 million acres and about 30 miles away from the Arctic Ocean. The Willow Project is being run by a crude oil production company by the name of ConocoPhillips. They are the owners of an oil reserve named Willow, where the project gets its name from. ConocoPhillips had originally proposed to have five drilling pads, but the government has only approved the building of three drill pads. While the area shows potential for new oil, it has also become a region that is frequented by polar bears and other wildlife.
Willow provides benefits and problems for both the environmental spectrum and the economy of America. CNN reporter Ella Nilsen writes in her Willow Project article “The state’s lawmakers say the project will create jobs, boost domestic energy production and lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil.” For those living in Alaska, the project could help fund services such as schools and medical facilities, as well as open up more opportunities for the state’s revenue. Unfortunately, it is undeniable that the operation will be contributing to carbon emissions and climate change. People are pointing out how the project goes against Biden’s 2020 campaign about moving the states to cleaner energy sources. There is also the risk of oil spills and meltdowns, which is damaging to the environment. The situation caught the eye of activists, and the project began trending on social platforms. According to the TikTok creative center website, the tag “#willowproject” has over 55k posts and totaling about 619 million views, “#stopwillowproject” viewership peaking during the beginning of April of this year.
Currently, there are 382 petitions on the site Change.org, the most popular petition racking up over 5 million supporters. Many environmentalist groups are also attempting to challenge the Willow Project in court. It would be an understatement to say that the human race has impacted the earth, for better or for worse. Only time will tell if the problem improves.