The Willow Project

Ava Wine, Staff Writer

On March 13 of this year, the Biden Administration approved Conoco Phillips’ Willow project. Within four to five hours this project received its first round of major backlash. According to, the main petition and campaigning site used against the Willow project, “The Willow Master Development Plan is the largest proposed oil development project on public lands. Willow would emit more climate pollution annually than more than 99.7 percent of all single point sources in the country. This project would completely encircle the Iñupiat village of Nuiqsut with oil development, increasing the health risks for the community and surrounding environment… it is vital that the Willow Project is declined.” Whilst this project has been scheduled and planned for almost four years now but became very active in the media only when the program plans and proposed implantation phases were published.

This project will detrimentally affect our ecosystem and will damage many of the huge water sources in Alaska. Not only will this make living conditions for minors in Alaska dangerous, but it will also affect the rest of Alaska’s population. When this information was released, it caused large amounts of panic to spread through the United States, especially amongst young teens. People began to post petitions and unreleased information through social media, especially Instagram. With this increase in media coverage, people began to spread their opinion at school and social clubs, comment sections of President Joe Bidens’s posts, and on the ConocoPhillips website. Senior Marisa Takeuchi, the president of the Eco Club, says that “Eco club talked about The Willow Project at the last meeting.” She also shared how she participated in the protests of this project by sending letters to people involved in the Willow Project expressing her concerns and fears for the future of our ecosystem.

In the last three weeks the main petition against the Willow Project gained over three million new followers wanting to put an end to this project. Sadly, the main petition only reached their goal of four million signatures the day after the Biden Administration had already met to discuss the progression and next steps of this project. This created a huge frustration and division between the people who have been working hard to stop this project for years and the people just becoming aware of the project.

The Biden administration argued that this project does have multiple positive impacts that can be lifechanging. According to the official website of ConocoPhillips, “During construction, Willow is expected to create as many as 2,500 jobs, with most of the labor provided by union workers along with 300 permanent jobs.” This not only will help people in Alaska but will help people all over the world. Biden says that when this project is passed people will be delighted with the decrease in inflation and costs. This then leads to the difficult question, should our environment be a political decision? Freshman Penelope Krause argues, “Yes,” while Sophomore Benjamin Lucas agrees, stating, “I think [political opinions on our ecosystem] will help because more people will hear about Willow, but more conflict will happen.” Many people are very passionate when it comes to their opinion and having this split will create a greater divide between the U.S.

What are the next steps in this project? The Biden Administration has been very hesitant to explain what is next for our ecosystem because of the large group of people who are upset at this decision. Many environmental campaigning businesses like Protect Our Winters have teased at the potential suing of President Biden saying things like, “We are gearing up for a huge push to stop the Willow climate bomb from moving forward,” and actively commenting threatening sayings on Biden’s Instagram. Junior Aiden Donavan says, “This will create a split in our government.” One positive to this project is that there will be an increased media space for people to talk about climate change and environmental events that have been brushed off. This will not only shine light on our environmental issues currently, but also how they have been handled in the past.

How can IHS students and Washingtonians help? Education is always the first thing needed to progress. Another thing is to have these conversations with your family and friends to help spread information of what is happening to our ecosystem. An additional way that is super beneficial is to research petitions to sign more articles on the Willow Project. Whenever possible, try to attend protests or watch these protests online through the projects livestream or friends you know who are attending. Even if we are not in Alaska, we will still be affected by these decisions. It is important to stay up to date on what is happening currently to our ecosystem to ensure damage like this does not increase.