Willow Project: US Government Approved a Mega-Project for the Extraction of Oil and Gas in Alaska

The Willow Project is one of Alaska's most significant oil development projects ever approved. Ecologists and academics say it is a devastating plan to generate enormous carbon emissions and damage biodiversity.

View of Alaska and Joe Biden

Photo: The Cool Down

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

Listen to this article

Leer en español: Willow Project: gobierno de EE.UU aprobó un megaproyecto de extracción de petróleo y gas en Alaska

The Willow Project is an oil and gas development project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The responsibility for this project lies with the company ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. Since 2018. It had been processing state permits for its exploitation since it is public land of the federal government. Despite strong resistance from activists and citizens, this Monday, March 13, President Joe Biden approved this controversial project.

Today the Willow Project checks the environmental and climate commitments the United States should assume. It also shows the hypocrisy of Joe Biden, who flew the flag of climate change during the presidential elections. Democratic members of Congress, such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have already challenged him for his decision.

What is NPR-A, and why is it so Important?

NPR-A is a vast Alaska's North Slope region encompassing more than 23 million acres. It was set aside by the federal government in 1923 as a potential source of oil for the US military. Since then, the area has been extensively explored for oil and gas, and several fields have been developed. However, it is also near the Arctic Circle (about 200 miles). It is an area with enormous biodiversity, home to animals such as caribou, brown bears, wolves, and migratory birds. It is also one of the least intervened areas in the United States, the ancestral territory of indigenous communities.

With US government approval, the Willow project will become one of Alaska's most significant oil and gas extraction projects. It will be located 23 miles east of the Alpine oil field and 35 miles west of the town of Nuiqsut. The project is expected to produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil daily and have a useful life of about 30 years.

Why is the Willow Project Generating so much Rejection?

It is well known that the only way to stop climate change and not further accelerate its risks is to discontinue using fossil fuels. However, the rulers do not seem to understand this, and the extractive companies continue to dominate the "game" due to their enormous economic power. The war in Ukraine gave new impetus to the exploitation of oil and gas and has served as an excuse for the United States to approve this type of project to ensure its security or energy sovereignty.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, this project "would generate a staggering 277 million metric tons of carbon pollution." However, the government argues that the project has followed a legal course with an impact assessment. There is an environmental impact statement (DIA) made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which, in October 2020, issued an act of decision approving the project with modifications to mitigate its environmental impact.

Despite everything, the Willow Project has faced opposition from environmental groups and indigenous communities, mainly the Iñupiat, concerned about the possible impact on the region's fauna and local communities' traditional subsistence hunting and fishing practices.


Environmental groups and social organizations such as the Sierra Club, Defend Sacred Alaska, Green Peace, and the Council for the Defense of Natural Resources have criticized the project for its impact on fauna, flora, and climate change as on the communities that live there. "No amount of money justifies the cost for people and the planet," says the organization Iñupiat sovereigns for a living Arctic (SILA). It is expected that in the coming days, there will be demonstrations and protests in the United States over this decision to demand that the government stop the plans of ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button