The Willow Project’s Been Approved…Now What?


Photo courtesy of AP Newsroom

Map of the National Petroleum Reserve in northern Alaska. The map also highlights the area where the Willow Project will take place.

Natalie Becker, Opinion editor

The Willow Project, a proposal from ConocoPhillips to drill in the oil reserves in Alaska, has been approved by the Biden administration. It is the largest oil extraction project proposed on federal lands.

According to Reuters, “ConocoPhillips has said the project would deliver up to $17 billion in revenue for federal and state governments and local Alaska communities.” 

Why Alaska? Alaska is rich in petroleum and the U.S. government owns the National Petroleum Reserve in the northern region of Alaska; ConocoPhillips has been drilling in the state for years, according to CNN.

There are some environmental concerns about the Willow Project from activist groups on TikTok. The hashtags “StopWillow” and “StopTheWillowProject” were trending and had millions of views, according to ABC News.

Junior Grace Taylor, a member of EHS’s environmental club, said that “the Willow Project is just a total annihilation of Alaska’s wildlife and ecosystems.”

The Willow Project not only affects the wildlife, but the climate and atmosphere.

“The drilling will produce even more carbon emissions, which is obviously not great for the Earth or us,” Taylor said.

The original plan proposed by ConocoPhillips was to have five drilling sites in the National Petroleum Reserve, but the Department of the Interior lowered it to three. 

According to ABC News, “The Biden administration said it will also move to protect 16 million acres of Alaska from future oil and gas developments…to split the difference between the Willow Project decision and…concerns from environmentalists.”

But is this an immediate threat? Can the Willow Project have dangerous consequences?

Taylor does not support the Willow Project because of its impact on Alaska’s environment. But she doesn’t think it will be a big problem now.

“It’s definitely understandable to be worried about the implementation of the Willow Project,” Taylor said. “But there is not anything to be done now. Just don’t focus on it too much. Otherwise you’ll just get really stressed.”