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  • Shreya Sangal

Willow Project: A Carbon Bomb in the Arctic

The Arctic is rapidly warming. The permafrost is melting, and ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s largest crude oil producer, stands to make a killing – while they pour fuel into the fire.


ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project is a massive and decades-long oil and gas drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, which is owned by the federal government. The area where the project is planned holds up to 600 million barrels of oil. That oil would take years to reach the market since the project has yet to be constructed. This drilling project would occur inside the petroleum reserve, located approximately 320 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. This reserve has no roads and is the United State's largest single expanse of untouched land. The development of Willow would require the building of hundreds of miles of roads and other infrastructure that would harm the currently pristine ecosystem.


On the 13th March 2023, the Joe Biden-led United States administration formally approved the Willow Project, which caused a lot of backlash. Shortly after President Biden approved the Willow project, NASA announced that we have until 2030, instead of 2050, to prevent global warming before it becomes a permanent and irreversible issue. The approval of the Willow project from Biden is seen as a betrayal since he had promised to end new oil and gas drilling on federal land in his 2020 campaign.


This $8 billion project is extremely controversial for its destructive environmental impacts, even as many hail it for opportunities for thousands of jobs and establishing a new source of revenue for the region. Some estimate that this project could single-handedly result in the loss of 532 acres of wetlands, 619 acres of habitat disturbances for polar bears, and more than 17,000 acres of such interference for birds. Environmentalists have urged this project's rejection.

In conclusion, the project may harm and affect local animal populations that are key to the community, degrade the region's air quality, and the major oil development could lead to spills, leaks, and blowouts. Willow is nothing but a carbon bomb that cannot be allowed to explode in the Arctic.



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