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What is Alaska Willow project and how it is dangerous for environment?

Alaska Willow Project; Despite facing strong opposition from environmental activists, US President Joe Biden has given approval

By Wahid Bhat
New Update
What is Alaska Willow project and how it is dangerous for environment?

Despite facing strong opposition from environmental activists, US President Joe Biden has given approval to the $8bn (£6.6bn) oil and gas drilling project in Alaska, known as the Willow project. ConocoPhillips, the company behind the project, claims it will provide local investment and thousands of jobs.

However, critics argue that the project should be halted due to its potential climate and wildlife impacts. Recently, youth activists on TikTok and other social media platforms have been particularly vocal in their opposition.

The project, located on Alaska's North Slope, is the largest oil development in the region for decades and could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day.

U-turn of Joe Biden

On February 9, 2020, at a town-hall meeting in Hudson, New Hampshire, Joe Biden, then a Presidential candidate, took a question from a woman standing near the bleachers. The woman asked about oil drilling in Alaska.

Biden, in response, pledged, “No more drilling on federal lands, period, period, period.” It was, he added, “a disaster” to drill for oil in the Arctic—“a big disaster, in my view.”

On Monday, the Biden Administration granted ConocoPhillips approval for an immense new drilling project—the Willow oil project—in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The National Petroleum Reserve is most definitely federal land, and it’s significantly north of the Arctic Circle. When the decision began to leak out, late last week, former Vice-President Al Gore called it “recklessly irresponsible” and “a recipe for climate chaos.” Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, decried it as a “complete betrayal of Biden’s promise.”

What is Alaska Willow project?

The Alaska Willow project is a major oil and gas drilling project in Alaska that has been approved by US President Joe Biden. It is being developed by ConocoPhillips and is located on Alaska's remote North Slope.

The project is the largest oil development in the region for decades and is expected to produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day.

The proposal for the project faced opposition from environmental activists who argued that it should be halted due to its climate and wildlife impacts.

The project is estimated to generate up to 278 million metric tonnes of CO2e over its 30-year lifetime, which is equivalent to adding two million cars to US roads every year.

How it is dangerous for environment?

The Alaska Willow project has raised concerns about its potential impact on the environment.

Environmentalists and some politicians are worried that the project could threaten wildlife habitats and disrupt the migration of caribou, which are an important source of food for indigenous communities in the region.

The drilling would also release greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change, and could lead to oil spills and other accidents that could harm the environment and endanger wildlife.

One of the major concerns about the Alaska Willow project is its potential impact on wildlife.

The project proposes the construction of up to five drill sites, about 37 miles of permanent and seasonal roads, an airstrip, pipelines, and other facilities. This would require clearing vast areas of land and disrupting the habitats of many animals.

Caribou, in particular, are at risk, as their migration routes could be disrupted by the construction of roads and other infrastructure.

This could make it difficult for them to access food and water, and could also make them more vulnerable to predators. In addition to caribou, other wildlife, such as polar bears, arctic foxes, and migratory birds, could be affected by the project.

Burning of fossil fuels

Another major concern is the potential for the Alaska Willow project to contribute to climate change. The burning of fossil fuels is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are the primary driver of global warming.

The Alaska Willow project, if approved and completed, could produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day, making it one of the largest oil projects in Alaska.

This would release a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and its associated impacts, such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, and the loss of biodiversity.

In addition to its impact on wildlife and climate change, the Alaska Willow project could also pose a risk of oil spills and other accidents.

Drilling for oil is a complex process that involves many potential hazards, such as blowouts, leaks, and explosions. If an accident were to occur at the Alaska Willow site, it could cause significant harm to the environment and wildlife, as well as the local communities that depend on the land and water for their livelihoods.

In addition, the project could also contribute to the degradation of water quality, as the drilling and transport of oil could result in spills and leaks that could contaminate the water supply.

The Alaska Willow project raises many concerns about its potential impact on the environment, wildlife, and local communities. While proponents of the project argue that it will create jobs and boost the economy, opponents argue that the risks are too great and that the focus should be on transitioning to renewable energy sources.

who's behind the #StopWillow campaign?

The Willow project has faced widespread opposition on social media users leading the charge.

The decentralized nature of the issue has allowed for diverse perspectives and voices to be heard, making it well-suited for the platform.

There is no single message or group dominating the conversation, allowing for a range of economic, environmental, and social concerns to be expressed.

Is there support for Willow?

The Willow project enjoys a broad base of political support in Alaska, including from the state's bipartisan congressional delegation, Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy, and state lawmakers.

Additionally, there is a "majority consensus" in support of the project in the North Slope region, according to Nagruk Harcharek, president of the group Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, which includes leaders from much of that region.

Supporters have called the project balanced and have stated that communities would benefit from the taxes generated by Willow, which could be used to invest in infrastructure and provide public services.

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