On March 13, 2023, Biden’s administration approved the Willow Project, immediately prompting controversy among environmentalists and TikTokers alike on this oil-drilling venture in Alaska.
Image courtesy: The Nation
Willow was originally proposed by an energy company in Houston, Texas called ConocoPhillips. This company has been oil-drilling in Alaska for a few years before proposing Willow, which in 2020 was approved by Trump’s administration, leading to the Biden administration being unable to fully reject or make drastic changes to this massive project. This violated Biden’s campaign promise to end all new oil/gas drilling projects on public United States land.
The Willow Project is the largest oil-drilling project that has been proposed to take place on U.S. land. It involves flying in and installing drilling pads, pipelines, and other facilities to pump and transport the oil from the northeastern part of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
Environmentalist groups as well as online influencers feel that Biden’s approval of the Willow Project is essentially approval of carbon pollution, global warming, and the destruction of natural habitats. This explains #StopWillow and the Change-org petitions that have been circulating on social media.
These are only a few of the concerns of those opposing Willow from afar. Alaskan Natives in the Nuiqsut village live very close to the planned areas of the drilling and they fear environmental and human health risks that will come with living near the sites.
On the other hand however, Native groups on the North Slope support Willow, as they are anticipating a financial boost to improve their education and health care systems from the drilling project. Additionally, the Alaska legislature favors the project since it will create more job opportunities, boost energy production, as well as decrease Alaska’s need to rely on oil from foreign countries.
Regardless of the point of view on the Willow Project, its relevance is clear, as it will transform the economy, energy supply, as well as the environment in the next few years if no issues arise with the project moving forward.