Press Release

BLM’s Willow decision will harm global climate and Arctic’s Indigenous villages

Two young Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) stay close together on the hill outside their tundra den.

Two young Arctic fox stay close together on the hill outside their tundra den

Lisa Hupp/USFWS


Tim Woody, (907) 223-2443,

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (March 13, 2023) – The Biden administration today released a record of decision that formally approves ConocoPhillips’ plan for a huge oil-development project in the Western Arctic that is estimated to release more than 280 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over a 30-year period.  This comes after an announcement on Sunday that the administration would offer protections to the Arctic Ocean and Special Areas of the NPR-A. 

The approval today of the Willow project from President Biden’s Bureau of Land Management severely undermines Biden’s climate promises by allowing the production of tens of millions of barrels of oil per year, which will negatively impact air quality and subsistence resources for local communities near the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. In response, The Wilderness Society released the following statement from Alaska Senior Regional Director Karlin Itchoak:

“The proposed conservation measures for the Western Arctic announced yesterday by the Biden administration are welcome news.  We regret that they were immediately followed by the profoundly disappointing decision to approve the Willow project, which will accelerate climate change and harm local Indigenous communities.  We will continue to fight this project with all means at our disposal.

“This decision underscores that the Biden administration needs a climate plan for public lands. It’s time for the administration to change the way it approaches drilling for oil on public lands if it has any hope of meeting its own climate commitments and leading on the kind of fundamental shift in energy policy that a livable future demands. This is a crushing step backward at a time when we need this administration to make every leasing and permitting decision through the lens of a comprehensive plan to make public lands part of the climate solution.”


The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization uniting people to care for America’s wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 111 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.