Weeping Over Willow

Biden Administration Passes Oil Digging Legislation

The Willow Project controversy represented through artist interpretation.

The Willow Project controversy represented through artist interpretation.

Zaniya Clark, Staff Writer

President Joe Biden recently approved a reduced funding package for Willow, a project to extract oil from Alaskan lands. The Alaska Willow oil project, the largest proposed oil project on U.S. public land, is a major economic lifeline for the state’s indigenous communities but environmentalists believe it will monumentally accelerate global warming.  

According to the New York Times, “President Biden approved an enormous $8 billion plan to extract 600 million barrels of oil from pristine federal land in Alaska” (Friedman). The project is expected to create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. However, Biden’s approval of this project has fueled a long-debated political and environmental controversy across the United States.

The Associated Press reported that using the oil from Willow would produce the equivalent of more than 263 million tons of greenhouse gases over 30 years which is about equal to the combined emissions from 1.7 million passenger cars over the same time period (Bohrer, et al). In an article published by The Guardian, Lena Moffitt, executive director of Evergreen Action, a climate group, said she and other environmentalists are disappointed in President Biden’s walk back on the issue (Milman, et al).

“After all that this administration has done to advance climate action and environmental justice, it is heartbreaking to see a decision that we know will poison Arctic communities and lock in decades of climate pollution we simply cannot afford,” said Moffitt.

LHS teacher Corey Conn. Photo courtesy of Conn.

LHS Government teacher, Corey Conn, spoke about his opinion on the Willow project controversy.

“The people in Alaska will benefit the most. For everyone else, the common thinking is that more oil in the system will lower the prices everywhere and probably lessen our dependence on foreign oil,” said Conn.

While increased drilling of oil within the United States is meant to help reduce oil prices and improve national security, the Willow Project is receiving backlash. Why?

LHS teacher Graham Roan

The project has the ability to produce a large amount of carbon pollution into the environment and destroy the habitats of wildlife in the area,” LHS history teacher Graham Roan stated. 

LHS sophomore and agriculture student, Ava Young, agrees. 

“I believe that the backlash received from accenting this project is justified. It is extremely harmful and they should care more about the impact they have on the environment,” she said.

Last August, President Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in an effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels. But with the passing of this project, the President is not holding true to his promise to fight climate change and is being hypocritical. However, Conn and Roan pointed out that drilling for oil in the United States may present positives that outweigh the negatives.

“I feel like we should be able to blend both oil and green energy and not rely solely on one or the other. This project will help the USA out from getting resources from our land. This should provide benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages,” said Conn.

LHS Sophomore Ava Young. Photo courtesy of Young.

“I think it will provide individuals in the region (Alaska) with jobs, and it will provide money to the local communities in the region. I do understand that there are some environmental concerns, but I believe the project is a good endeavor,” said Roan.

Young fervently disagreed.

“I believe the Willow project should have never been accepted or thought about. It will be doing extremely harmful things to the wildlife, their climates, and even the air that we breathe.”