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THE WILLOW TREE PROJECT: What is it and What Will it do?

Over one million letters have been sent and over one million people have signed petitions to cease what’s known as the Willow Project. Despite this, the project was approved as of March 13th and is aimed to be in motion for the next 30 years. So what exactly is the Willow Project, and what has lead to the strong opinions around it?

WHAT IS IT?

At its core, the Willow Tree Project is an oil drilling project that will be taking place in the National Oil Reserve of Alaska, partnered with ConocoPhillips which is Alaska’s largest crude oil production company. The yield of the oil reserve has a goal of 180,000 barrels of oil every day. ConocoPhillips was initially pushing for 5 oil drilling sits, 3 of which have been approved for Willow Tree.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

As Willow Tree would be the largest proposed oil endeavor on U.S. soil, it would make a drastic leap for energy independence and security — with the lead sources of U.S. oil being Canada, Mexico and Russia, at the moment. The security within its own fuel reserves would mean more affordable oil.

Work on the oil rigs would also ensure secure and profitable jobs for thousands. As well as job security, there would be support to the security of Alaska’s economy, which has been suffering immensely over the past few years due to factors such as high outmigration.

Overall Willow would be looking to give back anywhere from 8-17 billion to local, federal and state governments.


WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?

Just as the deal has economical advantages, it has many ecological drawbacks which have inspired public outcry and protest.

While the figure of revenue is high, so is the figure for how much CO2 would be left from the fuel used: nearly 300 million tons, and an estimated 20 billion dollars worth of damage. This has lead climate activists to speak up and take action through protest and petition.

The environmental devastation also poses a great threat to the natural habitats of Alaska, which have yielded provision for natives. Migration patterns and living conditions for Alaskan fauna such as caribou and spectacled eiders, which are already classified as threatened species.

Much backlash also comes from the fact that Biden and the Biden Administration made promises to many that were fighting for climate repair and care. As currently listed on the whitehous.gov site under “Priorities,” “The Biden Administration will create good-paying, union jobs to build a modern and sustainable infrastructure, deliver an equitable clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.”

However, a 30 year oil plan would put us well into 2053 and just finally wrapping up the production of the oil from Willow Tree.

As the project was recently approved, many are still holding on to their action and hope, believing there is still time for repair, and a better plan that benefits both the people, and the planet they call home.

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