Why Biden should block the Willow Project

Oil drilling venture not worth environmental harm


Johanna Kaplan

The Biden Admission is currently in the process of making a monumental choice. They will imminently decide whether or not to approve the Willow project, a $6 billion decades-long drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope. The project has received opposition form people nationwide — with an online petition reaching over three million signatures to take it down. The reason why: the Willow Project is expected to emit over 278 million tons of greenhouse gasses over the span of 30 years. Not only will the project add to global emissions, but it will also impose on Alaska’s previously undisturbed wilderness. 

On the flip side, it could yield between $8 and $17 billion in revenue and create jobs for up to 2,000 individuals. As with most drilling endeavors, there is potential for both great financial benefits and grave environmental consequences. The question remains: is improving the economy worth damaging the Earth?

In a world plagued by climate change, approving this project completely negates the efforts of activists worldwide. The Willow Project will be in the works for years on end, meaning its approval today will lock in all future damages for the next three decades. There is no going back, so this decision is imperative. 

The Willow Project was originally proposed by the Trump Administration, but it didn’t go anywhere until now. Ambitiously, the Biden Administration aims to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, which directly clashes with the potential approval of the Willow Project. If Biden does give his seal of approval, it will be an act of hypocrisy and will damage his integrity. 

A federal statute requires 50% of revenue earned to be allotted to the state of Alaska, which would greatly improve conditions of nearby towns. This money would help build up these communities by funding new developments for locals. This is a silver lining of the Willow Project, and one of the reasons why Alaskan political leaders are supporting it. The Alaskan economy is so tied up in the fossil fuel industry that they have become dependent on it. 

Not all residents would benefit from this, though. The animal populations living in affected areas would be devastated. Animals like caribou, beluga whales, wolves and bears call this reserve home. We have no right to invade their natural habitat for the sole purpose of improving our economic conditions. Humans have a long and dark history of taking what we want without a care in the world for potential consequences for other animals. Global warming is the prime example of this. 

We have reached a point where science is belittled and denied in the face of greed. The Willow Project may have a positive short-term effect on humans, but it’s about time that we think in terms of a larger picture. Is this the best option 20 years from now? What about 100 years in the future? Sure, it will provide jobs and money for the time being, but the environmental effects of such a project outlast any temporary benefits.