ACTION: Stop the Willow Project:
No New Oil Drilling in Alaska
The Climate Reality Project
(August 3, 2022) — Last August, a federal judge blocked ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, citing an insufficient environmental analysis. Now, what would be the single largest oil extraction project on US federal lands is up for approval again.
We don’t need to tell you that another oil drilling site spells disaster for the climate.
This summer, we are already seeing the consequences of burning fossil fuels in real time. Sweltering heat is baking parts of the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia, while fueling wildfires and killing thousands. Water supplies are drying up as the western US is experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years. All while Bangladesh, Australia, and Pakistan were pummeled with torrential rainfall and flooding.
If approved, the Willow Project and the up to 284 million metric tons of carbon it is slated to emit will not only threaten the already-fragile Alaskan ecosystem and Indigenous and local communities, but also produce devastating effects that will reverberate around the world. The good news is, we still have the opportunity to speak up and stop it.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering a NO DRILL option before making its final decision later this year. Tell BLM to stop sacrificing the well-being of the planet and its people for Big Oil and pull the plug on the Willow Project.
President Biden recently declared, “Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world . . . We need to act.”
We couldn’t agree more.
But now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving closer to green-lighting the Willow Project in Alaska. If approved, this would be the single largest oil extraction project on US federal lands, producing 629 million barrels of oil and spewing up to 284 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over 30 years.
We all know what this much global warming pollution will do. Just look at the historic drought drying out rivers and reservoirs across the West. Or the heatwaves baking millions of Americans from coast to coast. Or the fragile ecosystem in Alaska, which is already warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the US.
Thankfully, it’s not too late to stop the Willow Project. BLM is considering a NO DRILL option before its final decision later this year. This is our opportunity to prevent another fossil fuel company from permanently scarring our land.
The Biden Administration recently published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement recommending approval for a ConocoPhillips project to produce more than 180,000 barrels of oil per day.
This project is a disaster for the climate, the environment, and local communities. We’re writing to say this project should be rejected. The planet is letting us know it is time to stop fossil fuel development. Droughts, floods, heat waves, stronger storms, wildfires, melting ice sheets, and thawing permafrost are all telling us the time for fossil fuels is over. In fact, to support new roads, pipelines, airstrips, and other proposed infrastructure, ConocoPhillips ironically suggested refreezing melted permafrost.
If you need to refreeze “permanently” frozen ground, something is desperately wrong. And especially wrong in this case since the refreezing will lead to further climate disaster. The planet is telling us that this project should not go forward — let’s listen.
The climate impact of this project is immense. The Center for American Progress analyzed the anticipated emissions from the project and concluded that while the Biden Administration’s efforts to promote wind and solar on public lands and waters will result in a reduction of 129 million metric tons of CO2, ConocoPhillips’ project will undo this climate progress twofold by producing an additional 260 million metric tons of CO2.
The president’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels will be unachievable if the Willow Project proceeds. We cannot let that happen.
This is bad enough, but ConocoPhillips thinks this project will be the “next great Alaska hub” and allow them not only to produce over 600 million barrels of oil over the lifetime of this project, but also an additional 3 billion barrels of oil from nearby finds.
Once you build the infrastructure, it is relatively easy to expand. The global climate impacts will be devastating, but the local impacts of industrializing the area will also be harmful.
The 250 wells, 37 miles of roads, 386 miles of pipelines, airstrips, and a new central processing facility will disturb nearby hunting grounds for Native Alaskans, who have vehemently opposed this project since its inception. Build out for the new site is set to occur near the community of Nuiqsut, which is already suffering from the negative health effects of other nearby drilling projects.
The sovereign Iñupiaq Peoples rely on the Western Arctic to maintain their way of life and a spill would be disastrous for many. This unique ecosystem must remain intact to not only maintain not its illustrious biodiversity that benefits the entire state, but to respect the wishes and well-being of Native Alaskans. For all these reasons, we urge the Bureau of Land Management to reject this project that is inconsistent with President Biden’s climate goals.