The Willow Project

Vote: 8-0

John Kirkpatrick

Overview: The Biden Administration has approved ConocoPhillips, an oil company, drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s Northern slope. Three drilling sites with up to 199 total wells could potentially produce up to 576 million barrels of oil over 30 years. Burning Willow’s oil would put out 239 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Highly controversial, many people are divided on the project.

In mid-March of 2023, the Biden Administration made the controversial decision to  allow  ConocoPhillips, a petroleum refiner, to drill in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska on its Northern Slope. Many people are unsure if this project will solve more problems than it will cause.

Biology teacher Mr. Daemicke has taken a stance against supporting the Willow Project. Daemicke believes that the approval of the Willow Project will only promote the further use of fossil fuels, instead of trying to find a clean energy alternative to oil.

“Personally, I’m against it…it definitely goes away from what our nation should be moving towards which is green fuel and this will just provide more fuel for fossil fuels.” Daemicke said.

Throughout much of Biden’s presidency, Biden has taken a stance against fossil fuels and has made an effort to promote clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels. The approval of the new oil venture also comes in staunch opposition to the Biden Administration’s stance on oil drilling on public and federal land. 

The Willow Project has been met with sharp criticism from social media and environmentalists online. According to CNN, over one million opposition letters were sent to the Biden Administration and over 2.8 million people signed a petition to stop the Willow Project on 

Daemicke believes that the reason the Willow Project caused such a stir on social media is because many people have strong opinions when it comes to fossil fuels and climate change.

“I think social media’s a place where you can pick a polarizing stance and when we’re talking about green energy that’s a very polarizing topic. So it’s just kind of a flag to go to, it’s a red button topic.” Daemicke stated.

One of the reasons the Willow Project was passed was to help stop America’s reliance on foreign oil. The Willow Project plans to drill in Alaska for 30 years, where ConocoPhillips could produce up to 576 million barrels of oil. 

Alongside the expected increase in domestic oil, the US government also has the belief that this will boost the American economy. The creation of new jobs and oil that will be produced would also improve the Alaskan economy.

However the negatives of the Willow Project still outweigh the positives. The natives of Alaska are concerned about the effects the project will have on the local environment. The carbon dioxide emissions from the Willow Project would not only harm the environment but it will also harm the residents who will live by the drilling site.

The Willow Project will produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide, roughly 239 million metric tons. The drilling will release 9.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s roughly equivalent to the emissions of 2 million gas-powered cars. The Willow Project will act as a carbon bomb, only furthering the already dire global warming crisis. 

“If we’re going to be burning all that oil, it’s definitely going to affect the climate negatively because that carbon dioxide and other emissions are going to go into the atmosphere and we know that that’s going to directly impact our global temperatures, our global air qualities and how that could indirectly affect different ecosystems,” Daemicke said.

While Iowans might think they can’t protest the Willow Project because of how far Alaska is from Iowa, there are things people can do to help. Contact your local politicians and vote against the support of fossil fuels once you’re eligible.

“Students are always going to be making decisions for the future so it’s important that they are educated on what’s going on in the world right now so they can make informed decisions for their future. Adults and voting citizens I think it’s just contacting your local politicians and making sure that they’re doing things in your favor. So if being green is an importance to you, then you need to make your party members aware of that,” Daemicke said.