US government allows Willow Project's oil and gas development in AlaskaMarch 14, 2023
Joe Biden has approved a major oil and gas drilling project in Alaska that faced strong opposition from environmental activists. The $8bn (£6.6bn) proposal faced a torrent of online activism in recent weeks, particularly among youth activists on TikTok. It is the largest oil development in the region for decades and could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day. However, it will generate up to 278 million metric tonnes of CO2e over its 30-year lifetime, the equivalent of adding two million cars to US roads every year. Monday's announcement will allow only three drill sites for the project instead of the five that were initially proposed, a compromise with anti-Willow activists.
Environmentalists had argued Willow is inconsistent with President Biden's pledges to lead on climate action, and a Change.org petition calling for it to be halted drew more than three million signatures. However, all three lawmakers who represent Alaska in Congress, including one Democrat, pushed for the project's approval, touting it as a much-needed investment in the region's communities. ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance also argued it would help boost domestic energy production and lessen the country's reliance on foreign oil. The Biden administration is trying to balance the approval with new bans on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean, but most environmentalists aren't buying that trade-off.