What is Willow?


Sophia Gray

The Willow Project is a project in Northern Alaska by ConocoPhillips, a company that has been surrounded by controversy for continued oil drilling, exploitation of nature, and posing risks to indigenous communities globally.

The willow project in the arctic has just recently been approved by the us government. It is massive and decades long oil drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, which is owned by the federal government. The willow project is going to open over 629 million barrels of oil, producing over 260 million metric tons of CO2 over the next 30 years into the environment. The arctic is vital to the indigenous people, the wildlife and global climate mitigation. Currently the arctic is warming 4 times faster than the rest of the planet and thanks to the Biden administration going through with willow, the climate change will be IRREVERSIBLE.

Now that the Biden administration has given the Willow project the green light, construction can begin. However, it is unclear exactly when that will happen, in large part due to impending legal challenges. Even though the Biden administration approved it, the Department of the Interior has said that its scope has been reduced by 40 percent. Instead of five drilling pads, there will be three.

Willow is now the biggest oil project under construction in the country, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. ConocoPhillips estimates its cost at $8 billion to $10 billion.

ConocoPhillips was able to secure initial approval for three oil-drilling sites. The project is estimated to produce 260 million metric tons of heat-trapping gases over 30 years.

Meanwhile, the world’s top scientists just published a “survival guide for humanity” that says we must cut global emissions in half by 2030 to avoid the worst possible harms of the climate crisis. Building new oil and gas infrastructure like Willow will make it impossible to reach that goal.

That has also made it a top priority for climate activists. They are pushing to reduce fossil-fuel consumption as a way to cut the emissions that cause climate change and have tried to stop major investments like this as a way to push the world away from oil. This project is especially vulnerable to public intervention because it is on federal lands and requires federal permits to go forward — and Biden had promised to end new oil drilling on federal land.

It’s time to ensure that no more projects on the scale of Willow ever receive a green-light from the agencies that manage our federal lands. We must protect the world we live because we only have one.