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The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

Greater problems than solutions presented with Willow Project

Emma Swope
People on social media speak out against The Willow Project

In 2022, the United States faced a shortage of oil, which negatively affected the lives of millions of American citizens as the price of oil rapidly rose. Now, in 2023, the Biden administration is considering passing a bill that promises to help combat this issue named the “Willow Project.” This bill has been subject to immense criticism, as activists, predominantly on social media, speak out against its potential environmental impacts. At the same time, many people uphold it, stating that it will produce a multitude of benefits for the country, and that the environmental impacts can be overlooked.

The issue itself, however, is not so black and white. While it has the potential to bring extreme benefits, it also may cause irreversible damage to our planet Earth.

The Willow Project is a product of ConocoPhillips, a company based on oil production and exploration. Essentially, it would be a massive oil drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, a location that is estimated to produce around 600 million tons of oil. The bill was first approved by the Trump administration in 2020, but the decision was reversed in 2021 by a federal judge who stated that it lacked environmental planning. Now, the bill has been brought back with revisions, and the public anxiously awaits the announcement of whether it will be passed or not.

The potential result is unclear, with even the CEO of ConocoPhillips, Ryan Lance, stating in an interview: “I think this could go either way and it’s all a political decision at this point.”

There are, in fact, a few positives to the bill. Most obviously, it would make oil prices cheaper and allow the US government to be less dependent on foreign powers such as Russia for our oil. It would also create around 2,500 jobs and raise billions of dollars for the state and the country. On a smaller scale, it would help support the local Alaskan Natives who live around the oil-drilling sites, funding their health care and education.

Though these benefits would be helpful in the present day, the long-term effects heavily outweigh the short-term ones. According to CNN, the administration itself estimates that the project could produce up to 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warning pollution every year. It also poses a threat to local wildlife and ecosystems, endangering already vulnerable species such as polar bears.

Along with the damage to the environment, the project damages the credibility of President Joe Biden. In the beginning of his presidency, Biden recognized the issue of climate change, even promising to stop any oil and gas drilling ventures on public lands. If he chooses to pass this bill, it would lead to mass outrage, especially with its growing infamy online.

Recently, #StopWillow, a movement promoting the termination of the Willow Project, has gained traction online. Additionally, a petition titled “Biden Administration and ConocoPhillips: SAY NO TO THE WILLOW PROJECT!” has gathered over 3 million signatures online. This, along with hundreds of videos, highlight the overwhelming negative public opinion regarding the bill.

The Willow Project as a whole is a double-edged sword – while it has the power to gain revenue and benefit America, it also will negatively impact the climate. The decision is not as simple as many believe it to be, since something needs to be done regarding the current state of oil in America; however, a project of this magnitude and repercussions is not the approach we need to take. If we are to pass the Willow Project, then the only justifiable way to do so is to scale it down, or find a way to reduce the amount of pollution.

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    Gabby DeNicolaMar 29, 2023 at 9:49 am


  • J

    JulesMar 29, 2023 at 8:23 am

    Good job!