Kristen Miller, acting director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said burning oil produced by the Willow Project over its lifetime would cause nearly 260 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions – roughly the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants. The infrastructure will also lead to new oil and gas projects in the region.
“The project itself not only has significant and long-lasting climate problems, it also creates the conditions for more emissions in the future,” said Ms. Miller.
Mr. Biden has taken significant steps to limit oil and gas development in the United States. One of his first acts as president was to temporarily freeze new oil and gas leases on public land and offshore waters. It also imposed a temporary moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is still in place.
The Willow Project is located in the northeastern portion of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, an area that the federal government has reserved for oil and gas development. The first discovery of oil in the Willow area was made in 2017 by ConocoPhillips Alaska. The company has announced that the project will create more than 1,000 jobs and more than 400 permanent jobs during the peak construction period.
In October, David Bernhardt, Trump’s interior minister, approved a plan for the company to drill up to three locations and build approximately 60 km of gravel roads, at least one airstrip, 386 km of pipelines and an oil processing plant to support those wells.
Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, an environmental activist and resident of the nearby village of Nuiqsut, said she believed the project would distract normal migration of caribou and affect the community’s ability to feed families.
“It will be very devastating to the way we live,” said Ms. Ahtuangaruak. And communities like yours are already suffering from the effects of air pollution from other oil and gas projects, as well as the effects of climate change.