HomeNewsWhat Is Alaska's Willow Project And Why Is It Controversial?

    What Is Alaska’s Willow Project And Why Is It Controversial?

    The Biden administration gave a green flag to ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project in Alaska on March 13, making way for what would go on to become one of the most discussed projects concerning environmental issues.

    The oil drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope was started within the National Petroleum Reserve. A few years after its initiation, several environmental activists came up to protest against it both online and offline. After the project gained traction, an American high fantasy adventure television series ‘Willow’ was also released in 2022, inspired by the project.

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    What Exactly Is The Willow Project?

    The project first got the approval from Donald Trump in 2020. (Image: CNN)

    The massive oil drilling venture, with several political undertones, aims to extract liquid gold from Alaska’s rich reserves in the National Petroleum Reserve. The area where the project was proposed to be started could yield up to 600 million barrels of oil. The actual market availability of this oil, however, would take several years to get on the charts.

    The Houston-based energy company ConocoPhillips is heading the Willow Project. It has previously been in business in the Alaskan oil fields. However, none of their projects was as ambitious or as critically scrutinized as the Willow Project.

    The project had initially gotten a green flag by the Trump administration in 2020. Later, Joe Biden‘s administration got the project’s approval down to three drill pads from the previously approved five. Biden had cited legal intricacies coupled with existing leases as the reason behind the moves.

    While the matter remains mired in legal battles and controversies, the construction of the project has been started and is in swing. The timeline for the completion of the project remains uncertain since there are several obstacles that the project is facing.

    Meanwhile, several environmental groups continue to protest against the project, successfully shadowing its rapid completion. Earthjustice, an environmental law group, has stated that it is planning to file a complaint seeking to bring the project to a halt. If the group wins this lawsuit, the project is likely to be delayed by at least a year.

    Earthjustice has cited the environmental impact of the Willow Project. The group believes that it is the Biden administration’s responsibility to make sure that carbon pollution is under control. Several other climate activists have also voiced the same concerns, stating that the project is very likely to cause a climate catastrophe.

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    The Willow Project Controversy

    Several protestors have voiced their concerns about the climatic impact of the project. (Image: Getty)

    The people who are siding with the project see it as a huge job creator and an economically beneficial project. Alaskan lawmakers have argued that the project can lead to heavy domestic energy production. They argued that it would work as a great step towards reducing dependence on foreign countries for oil supply.

    Several Alaska Native groups have also shown support for the project, stating that it will help them create a long-overdue revenue stream for their community. Some other Alaska Natives living closer to the project have expressed concerns about the health and environmental impacts of the project.

    The climate advocates have argued that the project contradicts the administration’s commitment to tackle climate change.

    Nuiqsut Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak has time and again brought the authorities’ focus to the village’s vulnerable position as the “ground zero for the industrialization of the Arctic.” According to the administration’s statistical estimates, the project is capable of leading to 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually.

    The project’s approval has opened a new debate between economic interests, environmental impacts, and political promises. As much attention as the project has already garnered, it remains a mystery what the project’s future will be and what it will entail in terms of climatic repercussions.

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    Aishwarya is a Senior Sub-Editor at First Curiosity. Working as a news writer for over 3 years, she has written on an array of things for a couple of media houses in different capacities. With writing as her outlet, she is now exploring the world of art and glamour. She has previously been associated with ETV Bharat and India Today as part of national editorial teams. With a fair share of work done covering national and international issues, she is now navigating through her abilities in the field of films and art. A movie and TV show buff, Aishwarya at First Curiosity tries to bring forth what a layman's eye might easily miss out on. Her flair for words and ability to convey what's between the lines are her biggest strengths. Her love for films and writing stems from her fondness for words and all things artsy. An avid reader and writer alike, Aishwarya likes to delve into any and all forms of art. When not tapping on her keyboard churning out articles, she can be found staring at books or screens, trying to find stories that'll help her explore the world and its portrayal through art better.

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