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Column: Willow Project approval will cause ecological devastation

On March 13, the Biden administration approved the Willow Project, an oil project based in Alaska, which caused a major backlash in the U.S.

According to Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit environmentalist group, this project is the “largest oil extraction project in the federal lands” and is estimated to release millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for the next 30 years.

ConocoPhillips, the organization behind the Willow Project, plans to have “250 wells, 37 miles of roads, 389 miles of pipelines, airstrips and a new central processing facility.” All of this can produce greenhouse gas emissions that are equivalent to one-third of the U.S. coal plants, which can cause devastating ecological effects.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Nations International Panel on Climate “observed that the world’s governments are currently veering off track from their pledges to keep global average temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).”

This may sound like a small number; however, it is predicted that this rise can cause catastrophic effects such as a rise in sea levels due to the ice caps melting, more droughts due to higher temperatures, and changes in weather patterns. All of this can impact human development by decreasing needed resources.

One of the best ways to prevent this environmental devastation is to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases and the use of fossil fuels as our main energy. There are other options that can be used to prevent global temperatures from rising such as renewable technologies.

However, there is an economic side to the approval of the Willow Project. ConocoPhillips came out to say the project can bring in “between $8 billion to $17 billion in new revenue for the federal government, the state of Alaska and North Slope Borough communities.”

According to YouGov, an international research group, half of the American population believes this project will positively impact the economy and government, the larger of that group being Republicans. However, 19% of the population believe it would positively impact the environment, while 33% believe it would negatively impact the environment.

The U.S. economy may be heading towards a recession, which make sense why senators and the Biden administration signed onto the project. We all have seen it with the inflation of gas, food and many other prices. However, we should not put the world at risk just to temporarily fix a problem.

This oil project has the potential to help the economy, but we are putting potential over the facts, which is irresponsible for the Biden Administration to do. Not only will this approval negatively impact the environment, but it can impact people, animals and plants.

Despite environmentalists and scientists’ efforts in telling the administration about the devastating effects this could have, they signed onto it to bring in more revenue for the U.S. By signing, we are risking a rise in health problems and a decline in basic resources we need to survive.

Groups such as Protect Our Winters and even environmentalists on social media are urging people to contact their senators and sign petitions to stop the project. People want to be heard about their concerns about this project, and they are doing what they can legally do to reverse it.

Written by Kilie Huckleby, Campus Life Editor.

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