Press Release

A climate plan for public lands

White House

White House

Mason Cummings, TWS

After Willow, The Wilderness Society calls on President Biden to develop a comprehensive climate plan for public lands

(WASHINGTON)--Following the Biden administration’s approval of the controversial ConocoPhillips Willow project on March 13, The Wilderness Society today issued a letter to President Biden urging him to develop a comprehensive climate plan for public lands that leads to a rapid phaseout of fossil fuel drilling.  

“We celebrate the president's commitment to conservation and demand-side climate ambition, but the approval of Willow makes clear there is more work to be done in how the administration considers the role of public lands in addressing the climate crisis,” said The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams. “We must ensure that consequential projects like ConocoPhillips’ Willow are no longer made in a vacuum, without the benefits of the management direction that a comprehensive climate plan for public lands would provide.”  

Estimates predict ConocoPhillips’ Willow project will generate enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year. This is about the same as adding 1.76 million cars to the roads. On March 14, The Wilderness Society and five partners filed a lawsuit on the Willow decision, saying the decision failed to consider alternatives that would protect the environment and reduce the project’s detrimental impacts to North Slope communities. Climate change advocates collectively launched a viral campaign to stop the Willow project, resulting in over 5 million petition signatures and half a billion video views across social media.  

“It is essential for the administration to review and change its approach to drilling for oil on public lands to have any hope of leading on the kind of fundamental shift in energy policy that a livable future demands,” said Alaska Regional Director for The Wilderness Society Karlin Itchoak. “Indigenous communities in Alaska’s Arctic – which is warming up to four times faster than the rest of the world -- are already facing the negative impacts of climate change. America must have a plan for shifting our public lands from being the problem to being part of the solution.”