Biden administration approves controversial plan to drill for oil in Alaska

Serena Erickson, Social Media Manager

March 13, the Biden administration approved the Willow Project in Alaska. The Willow Project is an oil drilling plan in the National Petroleum Reserve which is owned by the federal government and will take decades to complete. The area where the project is planned to take place holds up to 600 million barrels of oil, although that oil would take years to reach the market since the project has yet to be constructed. 

According to The Washington Post, “Willow is now the biggest oil project under consideration in the country, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. ConocoPhillips estimates its cost at $8 billion to $10 billion. Burning Willow’s oil would also put into the atmosphere an estimated 239 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during the project’s 30-year lifetime — or the equivalent of driving 1.7 million gasoline-powered cars a year.”

Two lawsuits were filed nearly immediately after the decision: one by an Alaskan Native group and the other by environmentalists. 

 Alaskan natives who reside near the proposed site are split between the potential profits and the environmental impacts on the wildlife and air quality.

Doreen Leavitt, the director of natural resources for the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, is in favor of the project.

“Just a few decades ago, many villages had no running water. We still have a long ways to go. We don’t want to go backwards,” she said.