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The White House Oilman: Biden Approves Willow Project

The White House Oilman: Biden Approves Willow Project

President Joe Biden approved the Willow Master Development Plan on March 13th, after controversy with climate activists regarding the environmental catastrophe the project may result in.  The Administration as a whole is taking flak for its seeming abandonment of the issues President Biden campaigned on.

The Willow Masters Development Plan, or Willow Project as it is more commonly known, is the single largest drilling project ever undertaken by the federal government.  It is set to take place on the Alaskan North Slope.  While climate and ecological impacts are a part of the controversy, political controversy is also awry as this is taking place under a democrat presidential administration – one that promised this wouldn’t happen.

In 2020, President Biden campaigned on protecting the environment and upon taking oath, having one of his first priorities being the passage of the Green New Deal, an environmental protection initiative towards net zero emissions from greenhouse gasses on the part of the United States.  More importantly, President Biden campaigned on no new drilling sights.  However, with the drilling project now approved by President Biden, many activists call it a stab in the back.

Proponents within the Biden Administration argue that the area isn’t really a new drilling site, having actually been acquired by the company, ConocoPhillips, in 1999.  In addition, Biden’s administration has argued that the actual drilling would take place in the National Petroleum Reserve, which is federal property, and not the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  They dismiss the NPR’s importance to the ecosystems there in comparison to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

 In addition, the Biden Administration claims that the projected gain from the drilling site would be nearly 30 years worth of fuel, as well as bringing in $10 billion in revenue towards state and local governments.

Alaskan Public Media reporter, Liz Ruskin, also added “Indigenous residents on the North Slope say oil revenues will help sustain their Inupiaq culture.”

 As part of a compromise to appease climate activists, the US Department of the Interior struck a deal with ConocoPhillips to relinquish 68,000 acres of leased land, as well as limit the number of drill site pads from 5 to 3.  The attempt was to lessen the scope of the project however critics say that is far from enough.

Allies of the Biden Administration, opposing the Willow Project, have made the comparison of the destruction it would cause.  In terms of emissions, it would produce about as much CO2 as 2 million cars on the road per annum.  Over its 30 year projected lifespan, it will produce an estimated 260 million tons of carbon dioxide.  To add to that, it would bring in infrastructure and thousands of miles of roads to an otherwise vast expanse of American wilderness.

Climate activists have repeatedly cited the ecological impact that is set to happen over the Willow Project like interrupted migration patterns, destruction of species there, as well as destroying the habitat there.

 Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen in a response to President Biden’s go ahead of the project released the following statement.

“We are too late in the climate crisis to approve massive oil and gas projects that directly undermine the new clean economy that the Biden administration committed to advancing. We know President Biden understands the existential threat of climate, but he is approving a project that derails his own climate goals.”

Climate is an issue of course that has grown increasingly in the political limelight.  However currently it’s proving once again to be a political bargaining chip.  One can’t help but recall the recent movie, Don’t Look Up with Leonardo DiCaprio.  In it, the President downplays the impending threat before using it as political cover for a recent scandal.  Like in the movie, the Earth still suffers.

Many ask why President Biden is initiating the project and one perhaps may consider this: it’s a short term accomplishment.  Climate change can not be an issue solved in the short four year term offered to a president.  Because 2024 is around the corner, with President Biden expected to run for re-election, he’s looking for a short term goal to wave around.  With the pipeline he gets to claim energy independence and massive infrastructure gains.

Politicians excuse detrimental climate actions citing job creation and energy independence because they sound good to the everyday American.  In fact, they are good.  However sooner or later this country and our leaders are going to have to ask themselves, when will a worsening environment be more important than short term distractions and political soundbites.  If we keep kicking the can down the road, eventually, there won’t be any more road left to kick it down.  The fear is, what if we find that out too late.

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About the Writer
Benjamin Nguyen
Ben is a Junior at Lakota West High School.  There he serves as the Junior Class Representative of Student Government as well as plays for the Lakota West boys Tennis team.  This is his second year of Journalism and usually writes his passions and interests for the website.  He likes to talk politics, history, philosophy, and theology, as well as just casually talking with good friends.  He is South Vietnamese American, Christian, and 16 years old.  While Ben was born in Columbus, he considers his hometown Hamilton, OH, as he lived there for the first 10 years of his life.  

“The first step towards failure is bringing it up”

Ben Nguyen

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