Biden Administration Approves Climate Warming Oil Project Despite Overwhelming Opposition

ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project Approved Threatening Harm to the Climate, Indigenous people and wildlife
Date: March 13, 2023

Today, the Biden administration approved ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, despite the 4.5 million comments received from Americans calling to reject this climate harming project.

The Record of Decision approves the development of Alternative E, as described in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The ROD denied two of the five drill pads proposed by ConocoPhillips.

But, we know that to mitigate the worst impacts of climate disaster and limit global warming to 1.5 C, all remaining oil and gas reserves must stay in the ground. What’s more, drilling in this area would devastate ecosystems that Indigenous communities need for subsistence hunting, gathering and practicing cultural traditions.

The Willow Project is a proposed oil drilling site in northern Alaska within the reserve which is home to the Teshepuk caribou herd, polar bears and migratory birds. The project has a  potential to release more than 280 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere over its lifetime.

Major of Nuiqsut, Alaska Rosemary Ahtuangaruak said in The Hill about the Willow Project: “It’s time for the Biden administration to wake up and see the Willow Project for what it is: a choice between a transition to a greener future while protecting all communities or extending our unsurvivable addiction to fossil fuels while perpetrating yet another grave injustice to Indigenous communities. If the administration chooses the wrong fork of the road, our families will struggle to put food on the table. We will have to leave our history and culture behind. And Indigenous people will continue to suffer and die from respiratory diseases at a disproportionate rate.”

Statement from Kay Brown, Arctic Policy Director, Pacific Environment:

“Alaska needs to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and stop relying on climate-wrecking oil and gas projects like Willow.  To avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change, scientists around the world agree the climate can’t tolerate more new oil and gas development. If the Biden Administration isn’t willing to put a halt to this massive new oil development, the future is bleak for the Arctic and our planet. We won’t stop the fight to move past fossil fuels to a cleaner and more sustainable future,” said Kay Brown, Arctic Policy Director for Pacific Environment.