The Willow Project

by Mariana Alvarez, Staff writer

After months of intense persuasion and in spite of concerns that the project, known as Willow, would undermine American work to stop fossil fuels globally, the Biden administration approved one of the largest oil developments on federal land. The focus of the nation’s climate change debate for several weeks was the Willow project in Alaska. Leaders in the oil sector said it was crucial to pass the project in order to protect their relationship with President Biden in the future.

The project would produce about 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution that can potentially warm the world. This poses a serious threat to the climate and is inconsistent with the administration’s promises to address the issue, according to Jeremy Lieb, a senior attorney based in Alaska with the environmental advocacy organization, Earth justice, who spoke to CNN. Concerns over a rapidly warming Arctic aren’t the only thing groups are worried about. These groups also state it will destroy the habitats of native species.

This whole project is inconsistent with this administration because Pres. Biden’s past commitments always prioritize environmental preservation, combating climate change, and ending drilling on public lands. Officials from the administration claimed that while these concerns are significant, they did not have the power to halt the project. Instead, they claimed they were forced by past regulations and leases that Conoco Phillips had already signed before the Biden administration took office.

The law grants a business with such leases the right to develop, and it offers sufficient legal standing to challenge the government in the event it tries to obstruct that effort. According to legal experts, Conoco Phillips  could have sued if the proposal had been rejected, perhaps winning billions of dollars at taxpayer expense, and yet been allowed to move on with development.