Washington, D.C. March 13, 2023 – Alaska Wilderness League is expressing deep disappointment with President Biden’s decision to greenlight the massive Willow oil and gas project, a defining decision for his administration’s climate legacy.
Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior released a Record of Decision that moves forward ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil and gas project in the western Arctic. It was based on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement which relied on insufficient climate analysis, ignored threats to the air, land and water, and greenlighted impacts to subsistence resources relied upon by local communities. President Biden has authority to reject the plan, which conflicts with the administration’s climate goals.
In the past few weeks, an eruption of public engagement to stop the project has made Willow a part of the national climate narrative. On social media alone, #StopWillow has more than 630 million views across social platforms and generated more than 5.3 million actions.
Statement by Kristen Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League:
“We are deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s approval of the Willow oil and gas extraction project in Alaska’s Arctic,” said Kristen Miller, executive director of Alaska Wilderness League. “This is the wrong decision for our climate future, for protecting biodiversity, and for honoring frontline communities who have raised their voices against this project.”
“The Willow project is designed to open the door to the development of billions of barrels of oil over decades. Let’s be clear: rampant oil and gas development on our nation’s public lands must stop now. We will keep fighting the Willow project. And we must change the way we manage all our nation’s public lands for climate, starting with changing the future of oil in America’s Arctic.”
“America’s Arctic is already on thin ice. Now is the time to find ways to be bold in conserving irreplaceable ecosystems and species. We appreciate the administration’s decision to finalize withdrawals in the Arctic Ocean and efforts to work toward stronger conservation in the western Arctic. But any effort the administration puts forth to protect the western Arctic must address the billions of barrels of oil that can now be accessed as a result of today’s Willow decision. Every leasing and permitting decision must be made through the lens of aggressively addressing the climate crisis.”
“The future for the western Arctic must include real change for the future of oil in the Arctic, for the sake of our climate. To that end, we stand with the millions of climate allies who have spoken out against Willow’s unacceptable climate threats, and we will carry this momentum forward. We will not back down until the Arctic is protected, once and for all.”
The Willow Master Development Plan project would emit pollution over three decades equivalent to 76 coal-fired power plants running for a year and would serve as a “hub,” for ConocoPhillips to industrialize Alaska’s Arctic. In addition to significant fossil fuel emissions, the project would threaten the subsistence and wildlife values of the western Arctic, including key migratory paths that sustain food security for the nearby community of Nuiqsut and other communities that depend on subsistence resources.
Alaska Wilderness League stands with, serves and supports the many people and organizations that believe in a sustainable future for Alaska. We honor and respect the cultures of Alaska Natives whose way of life remains deeply connected to the state’s land, waters and wildlife. We believe that Alaska’s long-term economic future and subsistence traditions are inexorably tied to the health and sound stewardship of its natural resources, which support hunting, fishing, tourism and unrivaled outdoor experiences that are central to Alaskans’ quality of life. www.alaskawild.org