Why the Willow Project is dangerous
The Biden Administration has weighed its options on the possible approval of The Willow Project, located on the North Slope of Alaska. It looks that the likelihood of its approval is increasing.
Karlin Nageak Itchoak, Senior Regional Director of the non-profit Wilderness Society, has been lobbying against the project on the grounds that “Willow is a carbon bomb that must be permitted to detonate in the Arctic.”
Can we afford to put economic growth over the environment when the Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world?
What is the Willow Project?
In the Alaskan North Slope, there is a plan to develop new oil reserves that involves a drilling project that will cost $8 billion and is known as the Willow project. It is said that the United States federal government may produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil every day through the cultivation of oil fields and the implementation of the oil project. This represents 1.5% of the total amount of oil produced in the United States.
ConocoPhillips Alaska, the company that is building the project, has suggested five drilling sites in response to earlier concerns regarding probable locations.
In the event that the proposal is successful, it will create the most significant new oil field in the United States in several decades.
What are its consequences?
Despite the fact that the Willow Project has the potential to be enormously profitable for the United States, data suggests that it would produce more than 278 million tonnes (306 million short tonnes) of greenhouse emissions throughout its 30-year lifespan.
This figure is nearly equivalent to the emissions produced by two million passenger vehicles during the same time frame.
Action Network and many others have campaigned against the idea, claiming that “The Willow Project will be catastrophic for all Arctic residents. The project’s noise, traffic, and pollution will destroy ecosystems on which Native Alaskans have relied for millennia. And the project endangers the already vulnerable caribou herd, a critical resource upon which many indigenous communities depend.”
The project has widespread political backing in Alaska, notably from politicians and state legislators.
Advocates of the project have referred to it as “balanced” and assert that communities will benefit from the taxes it generates. According to them, these funds would be utilized to invest in the area’s infrastructure and provide public services.
What are the activists’ problem?
Opponents have criticized President Joe Biden over the project, alleging that he is abandoning his campaign words and principles.
Throughout his candidacy for the presidency, the 80-year-old president has made combating climate change a public priority. Many saw this new possible oil project as a betrayal, given they supported a landmark bill to expedite the spread of sustainable energy such as wind and solar power and shift the United States away from the usage of oil, coal, and gas.
Itchoak stated, “Our Native settlements are collapsing into the sea, thawing permafrost is jeopardizing our infrastructure, and food supplies are diminishing.” And this project would only exacerbate and accelerate the Arctic climate disaster.
Kristen Monsell, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, was quoted in the Guardian as saying, “It is unacceptable that Biden appears likely to approve the immensely damaging Willow project, placing oil company profits over the future of polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. We will continue to oppose it until it is eliminated.”
Having pledged to cease federal oil and gas drilling, Biden has advocated for renewable energy; nevertheless, as oil prices have continued to climb as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the president has faced more pressure to boost drilling.
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