Biden Administration approves controversial Willow Project

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -President Joe Biden has approved the controversial Willow Project in Alaska. Supporters say the oil drilling venture is expected to create thousands of jobs. Opponents say it will come at the cost of the environment and the local culture.

On Monday, Conoco-Phillips officially got the green light from the Biden Administration. Located in northwest Alaska on the National Petroleum Reserve, over the course of ten years, Willow is expected to produce around 2,500 jobs and 600 million barrels of oil.

“This is a project that is recognized for the value that it brings not only to Alaska, but to the country, and further to the benefits we can then provide to our allies,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

The plan calls for three oil drilling sites, not the five originally requested. In a statement, Conoco-Phillips indicated work would start almost immediately, “This was the right decision for Alaska and our nation.”

The energy firm also thanked Alaska’s congressional delegation for their support. Murkowski said producing oil on American soil is better than having countries like Venezuela, who has a terrible environmental track record, sell it to us.

“If you can tell me that any of those countries that we would then be risk having oil from to make up for what we could otherwise get from Willow, that they have a better environmental track record than what we can do in Alaska. Show it to me because it doesn’t exist,” Murkowski said.

Climate activists and advocates are disappointed in President Biden for what they say will result in more health and environmental consequences.

The League of Conservation Voters pointing to the Biden Administration’s own admission that Willow will create more than nine million metric tons of carbon pollution.

“We don’t think it’s in line with the president’s commitment to cut carbon emissions by 2030,” said Leah Donahey, Federal Advocacy Campaign Director for the League.

Donahey said any future development of oil and gas, especially a project of this size, is bad not just for Alaska but the United States as a whole.

“We really need to be moving towards investing in clean energy, not locking us into future fossil fuel development,” Donahey said.

Despite the administration’s approval, climate change advocates like EarthJustice say they are very likely to sue to try to stop the project from happening. In a statement, Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said, “We are reviewing the details of the final decision. It does not look like Interior has fixed the myriad legal flaws that Earthjustice and others identified for the agency prior to its decision.”