Will it end with Willow?

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

Environmental activists nationwide are rallying together in opposition to a proposed oil operation in Alaska’s National Petroleum Field. The Willow Project is a six billion dollar oil and natural gas proposal by ConocoPhillips — Alaska’s largest oil producer — estimated to produce approximately 180,000 barrels of oil per day and upwards of 600 million over the project’s lifetime. 

The impact of the Willow Project could lead to devastating ecological decay as well as a massive negative effect on climate. According to EvergreenAction, over the 30-year lifetime of the project, an estimated 287 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses would be leaked into the atmosphere — the equivalent of 76 coal-based power plants, a third of the total of coal plants across the U.S. 

For the project to be built, ConocoPhillips would have to disrupt the habitats of local fauna. Drilling sites, roads, bridges and more would all have a lasting impact on the migratory movements and habitats of indigenous wildlife within the American Arctic. As a result, areas like Teshekpuk Lake could be in danger of ecological decline or collapse if oil development continues. 

The damage to the caribou population would harm native populations, especially in the village of Nuiqsut. According to activist and city Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, “The animals are no longer in areas where your grandfather taught your husband to hunt and where he taught his son,” she said. “Now there’s a gravel mine related to the oil and gas development.” 

Much of the town lives off of hunting caribou during their migratory seasons, and new oil developments put this at risk, as they have already seen a decline in local wildlife. In January, Mayor Ahtuangaruak issued a statement in an attempt to halt the project on behalf of Nuiqsut or, at minimum, to increase the regulations on the project. The statement mentions the possible adverse effects of drilling runoff on the Nuiqsut, the change in caribou migratory patterns and more. 

If approved, the project would destroy President Joe Biden’s plans to reduce emissions by approximately 50% within the next decade. Besides the planned cut in emissions, the project goes back on what Biden has promised since taking office — a total stop on new oil developments on federal land as well as his “stance” to take on global warming. 

Environmentalists and the American public have made their voices heard; we oppose the ConocoPhillips Willow Project. The impact on the Alaskan environment, global warming and Alaskan natives will go against everything the Biden Administration has attempted to build within the past two years. The final decision on whether the project is greenlit will likely be the president’s, so he had better stick to his guns. 

For more information on how to oppose Project Willow refer to www.protectthearctic.org/stop-willow