By Leah Napier-Raikes

On March 13th 2023, US President Joe Biden approved of the ConocoPhillips’ oil drilling Willow Project in Alaska. The Texas based oil drilling company drafted this project decades ago but has only been rejected various times before Biden’s presidency, being was approved by the Trump administration in 2020 but later in 2021 being rejected by US the courts due to the detrimental impact this plan will have on our environment. 

The Willow Project entails a 23 million-acre area of land in Alaska, the largest area of undisturbed land in the US, being sold for oil drilling. This would bring an approximate $17 billion dollars revenue for federal and state governments, and directly contradicts President Biden’s promise in 2021 to fight Climate Change. It is clear as to why the branches of the US government would approve of this plan as it funds them, however they have clearly neglected their duty to consider the effects this plan would have on the environment and civilians. The consequences of this decision on behalf of the Biden administration is that there will be approximately 70 million metric tons of additional CO2 in our system from US emissions, and another 60 million metric tons from international emissions. Just a week after the Willow Project’s approval, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  reported that the world’s governments are currently veering off track from their pledges to keep global average temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius. If this number is reached, the catastrophic impact will result in rising sea levels and extreme heat waves, and millions of estimated deaths by the end of the century.

What can we do?

This situation presents us with the uncomfortable truth that no matter how much we consider environmental factors in our personal lives and do our own part, governments and corporations will continue to contribute greatly to global emissions, landfill and overall destruction to our planet and legislation fails to prevent this. To combat this, we only have power in numbers to pressure governments to implement any change in corporate practices, and they likely will not limit this project without great public scrutiny as it directly funds them. Although this project has already been approved, groups such as Earthjustice, an environmental law group, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, have already filed a lawsuit to stop the Willow Project. Actions through pressure groups with already established influence over the government will aid us to prevent this project from going through. Signing petitions to show governments our public disapproval, donating or volunteering with pressure groups, and spreading wider awareness to the public to gain more support for the cause is the only foot forward in our fight for the planet.