Opinion / The Nation and the World

The Willow Project is an irrevocable burden for our planet

The Willow Project is an oil drilling project proposed in 2017 by ConocoPhillips, a multinational energy corporation based in the United States. The project is located in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, on the North Slope plain.

The effects of oil drilling are tremendously destructive to the environment. By the Biden administration’s own estimates, the Willow Project would generate enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year – equivalent to adding 2 million gas-powered cars to the roads. Therefore, I believe that the US should not pursue the Willow Project.

This project aims to evaluate more resources to increase the American GDP and boost developments of fields that acquire oil. However, it is unethical and egotistical to drill oil for profits and benefits when it only drives climate change and pollution, especially because the environmental burden is irrevocable. Once pollution and oil drilling operations are in place, the effects on the environment can not be taken back. 

According to E&E News, in October 2020, the Trump administration approved the Willow project, despite concerns from environmental groups and some Indigenous communities who argued that the drilling would threaten wildlife and disrupt the traditional way of life for Indigenous peoples in the area. In 2020, a federal judge reversed the approval in consideration of environmental concerns. In March 2023, President Biden approved the massive Willow Project in Alaska once again. 

The drilling site covers approximately 160,000 acres, and is estimated to contain up to 600 million barrels of recoverable oil. The project involves the construction of up to five drill sites, pipelines, roads, and other infrastructure necessary to extract the oil.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a new report, observing that the world’s governments are currently veering off track from their pledges to keep global average temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), and furthermore noting that “there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” Due to the Willow project, the 1.5 degree-tipping point will precipitate a cascade of devastating effects, including rising sea levels and extreme heat waves, which could lead to millions of deaths worldwide by the end of the century. 

Although many environmentalists and people who oppose oil drilling have sent proposals to stop the Willow project, there is not a response from the government or any initiative to halt drilling oil yet. It is crucial for more people to take action, and negate organizations that selfishly seek for profits, neglecting the lives of others.

Image source: Alaska News Source.

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