Press Release

Willow project poses major threat to communities, climate

Ice floes in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, AK

Ice floes in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, AK

Peter Mather

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA -- The federal Bureau of Land Management today released its draft environmental impact statement on ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow Master Development plan—which, if approved, would lead to a massive new oil-development project in the Western Arctic’s National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska—and the agency will be accepting public comment on the document for a mere 45 days.

This follows a ruling last summer by U.S. District Court of Alaska Judge Sharon Gleason that the Trump administration failed to evaluate the project’s negative impacts on wildlife and the impact that burning so much oil would have on the world’s climate.

The Willow Project alone is estimated to add more than 250 million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere over the next 30 years, if approved, and would likely spur additional oil development in the Western Arctic by building roads, pipelines, and processing facilities that make future projects feasible.

In response to today’s announcement, The Wilderness Society released the following statement from its Alaska state director, Karlin Itchoak:

“No other oil and gas project has greater potential to undermine the Biden administration’s climate goals. If this project were to move forward, it would result in the production and burning of at least 30 years of oil at a time when the world needs climate solutions and a transition to clean energy.

“Under the Trump administration, this project was rubber-stamped without meaningful disclosure or a plan to offset the environmental damage that drilling would cause to local communities and the unique, wild places that deserve protection,” Itchoak added. “We stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities in the region who are working to protect their lands and waters, and we urge the Biden administration to consult them while engaging in a thorough, rigorous assessment of Willow’s terrible environmental and climate impacts.”