By Sydney Umstead, Asst. News Editor
The controversial Willow Project was approved by the Biden administration on March 13. This decision has left many climate activists questioning what comes next as the project threatens Alaska’s ecosystem.
The Willow Project was proposed by the corporation ConocoPhillips, and will be used as an attempt to cut down the costs of oil by drilling into a United States resource, the National Petroleum Reserve, located on the northern side of Alaska.
CNN reports that this also means releasing “9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year.” However, many are split on their opinions regarding the approval for the project.
Some Alaskan lawmakers promoted this as a way for the state to increase job revenue, and increase financial stability within their communities. The Guardian writes that some have argued that this push by officials made it difficult for President Biden to refute the project. But activists fear the long term effects of oil drilling, and have taken a stance against its approval.
Other Alaskan natives have also expressed concern towards the emerging oil drilling taking place in their state. Residents and tribal members in Nuiqsut, a predominantly Native American Alaskan town, wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, expressing their fears for the project, especially so close to their homes and livelihood.
#StopWillow has become a top trending hashtag on platforms such as TikTok and has led to the creation of a Change.org petition against the project, which now has over three million signatures. The protests also took place outside of social media, as people gathered in front of the White House on March 3 with some signs that spoke directly to President Biden, stating, “President Biden: Defuse The Willow Climate Bomb.”
The expansion of The Willow Project may take multiple years to become profitable, as it is still in the early stages of development. However, in an article by "The Guardian," Oliver Milan touches on how the Department of the Interior has placed some regulations in place to prevent “further drilling, with all of the US’s Arctic Ocean off-limits to future oil and gas exploration.”