Biden admin recommends climate-polluting Willow drilling project

A caribou in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Caribou in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Bob Wick, BLM

After Tongass and Boundary Waters wins, news threatens conservation legacy

With its recent decisions to protect the Tongass National Forest and Boundary Waters headwaters, the Biden administration appears to be focusing on climate-first solutions. Its choices to protect critical habitat, clean water and forests that naturally store massive amounts of carbon seemed to be aimed at ticking off wins to secure a positive climate legacy for years to come. 

Unfortunately, they’re now poised to take a big step back with the Bureau of Land Management’s recommendation to approve the Willow project, a massive oil drilling operation in Alaska that would lock in decades of climate pollution.    

President Biden can still get us back on track. However, he must do so, before his team issues its formal “record of decision,” which could be as little as 30 days after the recommendation is released.  

Willow project would contribute to climate change, systemic injustices

ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project is an $8 billion project that would add at least 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere over the next 30 years and pave the way for additional oil development.

By recommending approval of the project, the administration puts itself directly at odds with its stated aim of tackling the climate crisis

If President Biden fails to reverse course, he risks a legacy of contributing massively to, rather than combatting, climate change.

He also risks adding to the many harms climate change directly places in front of Native peoples, Black and Brown communities and others put on the front lines.

Earth simply cannot afford another 280 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from an oil project in Alaska’s Western Arctic—or anywhere else. Unless he turns back now, the president’s legacy on climate will be tarnished by this decision.  

Arctic is “ground zero” for climate change impacts

The administration can and must reverse course. It’s not too late to follow his other conservation victories (like blocking a mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay) and halt the Willow project.  

In the Arctic, temperatures are rising two to four times faster than the rest of the planet. Exploiting public lands through development like the Willow project perpetuates our dependency on fossil fuels and deepens that crisis, translating to villages sliding into the sea; thawing permafrost creating insecure infrastructure; and food sources and habitats disappearing. Clean air, abundant wildlife and clean water are critically important to the survival of Indigenous communities in the region, and climate change threatens all of them.  

President Biden must put these communities and a stable future first—not oil company executives.

It’s time to respect the science and protect our climate by stopping the Willow Project.

How you can weigh in

The administration will have only 30 days to reverse course and they need to hear from you. Remind the Biden administration that if they are serious about fighting climate change and protecting Biden’s legacy on a critical threat of our time, it is vital that he put the health and safety of current communities, future generations and our lands first. To do so he must reconsider the Willow proposal and prevent final approval. The Willow Project is a carbon bomb that cannot be allowed to explode.  

Tell Biden it’s not too late: Stop the Willow project