The ConocoPhillips’ Willow projects environmental toll


ConocoPhillips via AP

An exploratory rig on the Alaskan North Slope provides ample data for the potential project.

Yness Martinez, Editor

Activists and ConocoPhillips have been butting heads about the passing of the new Willow Project. The project would create a drilling site in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, spanning over 23 million acres on the state’s North Slope. This is the largest region of undisturbed land in the United States. So far, President Biden has supported a ‘scaled-back’ proposal of the project; although the new version doesn’t change the irrevocable environmental impact it will impose. The Bureau of Land Management approved Willow last month that will include three drill sites, the final decision should come later this month.

The Willow Project is the perfect example of broken trust with what we are told, and expect, out government to do for the sustainability of the future. Creating billion dollar oil rigs that will release 250 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over the next three decades. The plan calls for over 250 total wells, 37 miles of roads, and 389 miles of pipelines, airports and processing facilities. This project is set to contribute more greenhouse gas emission than any other proposed project on American soil.

Supporters cite its necessity as a benefit to the ‘economic lifeline’ of America, AKA oil and gas. Much of this lifeline has been metaphorically strangled due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Russian forces have hindered the efficiency of surrounding oil and gas drilling to be exported around the world, causing U.S. gas prices to soar. The Willow Project would produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, and effectively lower gas prices. 

Miles of oil pipelines stretch across the landscape outside Nuiqsut, Alaska. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)

None of this accounts for the environmental toll this will cost the surrounding region and the future of global warming. This will completely barr efforts of keeping global warming below 2 degrees celsius and continue emission reductions.

Furthermore, the untouched lands cannot handle the impact of air, road, and human traffic the project will cause. According to the BLM’s analysis, there is no way the project will not impact the habitats of species like polar bears and other mammals. The Biden administration has been promoting oil companies to invest in higher production to lower energy prices.

All of this goes against what the Biden administration had stuck by in his promises during his time in offices. It conflicts with his promises to fight climate change and poses a threat to the pristine wilderness Alaska has kept in that area thus far.

Citizens need to reject this proposal and advocate for the freedom of the millions of organisms in the habitats that will be affected by this project. It goes against everything the sustainable policies Biden advocated for, the policies we need to stand by if the future of our Earth is to be saved. Here and now is important, but the future will be here soon enough.