Today, more than 140 organizations and businesses sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland urging the Biden administration to reject Willow, a massive oil project proposed by ConocoPhillips in America’s Western Arctic. If approved, the Willow Project will add an estimated 260 million metric tons of CO₂ to the atmosphere, threaten the robust ecosystem that the Western Arctic supports, and make it virtually impossible for President Biden to meet his climate and public lands protection goals.
The letter urges Secretary Haaland to consider the long-term climate and environmental justice aspects of what is currently the largest proposed fossil fuel development project on public lands:
The decision your administration will make on the Willow Project is a legacy-defining decision that could commit us to at least another 30 years of fossil fuel extraction. It will also begin the aggressive development of a region that houses enough fossil fuels that, if burned, would equal more than double the carbon emissions of burning all the oil that the Keystone XL pipeline would have carried over its 50-year lifespan, had it been approved.
Declining to approve the proposed Willow project and its highly problematic carbon implications would be an important step in the fulfillment of the Biden administration’s commitments to sound policy and science, as well as in the work to fully deliver on your long-term climate and environmental justice promises.
Signers include the Sovereign Iñupiat For A Living Arctic (SILA), Alaska Wilderness League, Audubon Alaska, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Trustees for Alaska as well as national organizations, including 350.org, the Center for American Progress, Conservation Lands Foundation, Earthjustice, Environment America, Evergreen Action, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. Patagonia also signed on. A full list of signatories.
“Willow would have significant and permanent impacts on tribes and communities in the region,” said Siqiniq Maupin, director, Sovereign Iñupiat For A Living Arctic (SILA). “Clean air and clean water are necessities for life, and Arctic communities should not have to trade their health and ability to breathe for basic essentials like running water and affordable heat. In light of the current gas leak only 8 miles from Nuiqsut, the most impacted by this project, it’s more important now than ever to stop further extraction in the area. The Biden administration must reject this dangerous project that threatens our way of life.”
“The Willow project is a climate disaster in waiting and the result will have a defining effect on the President’s environmental and climate legacy,” said Nicole Gentile, director, Public Lands at the Center for American Progress. “Now more than ever, the Biden administration must prioritize environmental justice, climate action, and an equitable transition away from a fossil fuel dependent economy by rejecting the Willow project.”
“Climate change poses an urgent, existential threat, as recently highlighted in a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) documenting anticipated damage and loss of life from extreme weather events, species loss, increased food and water insecurity, and harm to physical and mental health,” said Jeremy Lieb, an attorney at Earthjustice. “Faced with this crisis, green-lighting a new fossil fuel project such as Willow is incompatible with necessary efforts the administration must undertake to quickly phase out fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”
“The Willow Project would severely damage Alaska’s North Slope, harm Indigenous communities and wildlife, and prolong a climate crisis exacerbated by humans’ reliance on fossil fuels,” said Meghan Wolf, environmental campaigns manager at Patagonia. “We need to stop destroying nature and transition to renewable energy. That means protecting the Western Arctic from industrialization.”
New Analysis Shows Willow is at Odds With Biden Administration’s Climate Goals
According to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress, the Willow Project would double the greenhouse gas emissions that President Biden aims to avoid with his administration’s bold climate pledges. “The Willow project is almost laughably incompatible with the climate goals and international obligations made by the Biden administration,” writes Jenny Rowland-Shea, the deputy director for Public Lands at the Center for American Progress.
As Evergreen Action recently pointed out, the emissions from Willow would equal the annual emissions of 66 coal plants.
While the Trump administration approved the Willow Project, ConocoPhillips’ permit was recently invalidated in court, subjecting the project to a 30-day informal scoping period. The nation’s leading climate groups such as Earthjustice, Climate Power, The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the League of Conservation Voters, and others have submitted a letter urging the Biden administration to reject the Willow Project and protect America’s Western Arctic in response to the Biden administration seeking public comment on the Willow Project as part of the scoping period.