HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — The Willow Project is the decades-long oil drilling venture in Alaska which was recently approved by the Biden administration. It’s been reported the area holds up to 600 million barrels of oil.
The project is good news for those in favor of domestic energy production, but bad news for many climate activists around the country, including some who spoke out today at the Pennsylvania State Capitol.
“It will probably cause us to have a shortened lifespan because it will release a lot of carbon into our atmosphere,” said Vivian Count, a local student at Capitol Area School of the Arts (CASA) in Harrisburg.
Despite the Biden administration’s best efforts for concessions, like reducing the number of drilling pads for the project, many climate activists are still outraged with the administration. Count calls it a “slap in the face” not just for Gen Z, but also for native populations.
“We also are here to uplift the voices of the Iñupiaq people who live in that area and who have repeatedly asked Biden to not approve this, yet he has, and he has almost slapped Gen Z and the Iñupiaq people in the face by approving this,” said Count.
According to the Biden administration’s estimates, the project is set to produce 9.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year. The approval of the project allows ConocoPhillips to operate three drill sites on federal land in northwest Alaska. Critics of the project were quick to condemn Biden, who campaigned on eliminating drilling on federal lands during his 2020 campaign.
Now, activists like Count are mobilizing across the country. Even though the Willow Project is thousands of miles away, Count says every effort and every voice matters.
“If we start to speak up, and other people see this, then other people around the world will start to speak up, including even people around and in Alaska who will be hugely affected by this,” said Count. “We, at the end of the day, still told people and showed people that there are people out there that care about the environment and want to live here in the next 30 years,” she added.
Proponents to the project say it is a big step in the right direction toward creating more jobs, boosting domestic energy production and ultimately reducing energy costs for consumers.