Willow Project has been approved

30-year oil drilling project passed


Anisa Kahin

After promises from the Biden Administration on cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030, the Willow Project — an oil drilling project on the northern slope of Alaska that has a 30-year span — was still passed.

While the Willow Project has its positives, it also has its negatives according to scientists who  have concluded that, as humans, we have 10 years until climate change is irreversible.

Having heard about the passing of the Willow Project, president of the Environmental Club, sophomore Abi Oppegaard, said that the news was devastating.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” Oppegaard said. “I definitely cried when I heard it got approved.”

Environmental science teacher, Peter Dangerfield, said he has hope in renewable energy being used but also understands why the decision is difficult.

It’s tough,” Dangerfield said. “Obviously, I would love to see more funds being put into renewable resources, but at the same time, the reality is we need resources and we need energy.”

Vice president of the Environmental Club, sophomore Karen Dworsky, said her concerns are only on how the Willow Project will worsen carbon emissions, but also how it will add to the rapidly melting conditions of Alaska.

It’s making carbon emissions worse and Alaska was already warming four times faster than any other place,” Dworsky said. “This is just going to make it so much worse and thinking about our future for the Earth is scary.”

While the Willow Project brings benefits for the U.S. economy, Oppegaard said she believes that when climate change is talked about, people only think about how it impacts the U.S. rather than how it impacts the whole world.

“The U.S. mindset a lot of times is, ‘Okay, how can we better ourselves, what can we do to make our lives easier? What can we do to make our lives better,’ but we’re not the first ones impacted by climate change,” Oppegaard said.

The question of whether improving the economy is worth damaging the Earth has a lot of different stances, but Dangerfield said that damaging the Earth wouldn’t affect him directly but it is different for others.

“I have the ability to sit back here and say, it’s not going to benefit me directly,” Dangerfield said. “If I was someone who worked for an oil drilling company, and I didn’t have work right now, then yeah, I’d want this project to go through.”

Dworsky, who had hoped for the Willow Project’s denial, said she was saddened to hear the news.

“I thought (that the project wouldn’t get approved),” Dworsky said. “There were a lot of people protesting it, like on change.org. I signed stuff too, so it didn’t happen. I thought there was a chance, but I was heartbroken to see that it was actually approved.”