We’ve told you before about the Willow Arctic oil project. And we’ve been telling you for a while now that President Biden’s signature investment in climate change – the Inflation Reduction Act – is essentially a big gamble that if we invest in both fossil fuels and clean energy, clean energy will win out in the long run.
Well the first round of betting is about to come due when the comment period on the Willow arctic drilling project closes on Monday, and Biden is going to have to show his cards. If Biden and team approve the project, not only will it violate Biden’s campaign promise not to drill for oil in the Arctic or on public lands and waters, it will also single-handedly add as much global warming pollution as 66 coal-fired power plants — making it impossible for the President to achieve his goals of cutting climate change emissions 50% by 2030, even with the IRA.
Simply put, Willow is too dirty, too polluting, and will cause too many climate changing emissions for even the $370 billion clean energy investment of the IRA to counteract. The cost to our carbon budget is simply too high to let fossil fuel war profiteers drill up and export 600 million barrels of crude oil just at the moment we need world oil consumption to peak and decline.
Here’s what you need to know: On Friday, July 8, long after most of the country had gone to sleep, the Biden administration took a key step toward allowing the massive Arctic drilling plan called the Willow project to proceed.
At the time, many thought that Willow was a part of the on-going negotiations to get Joe Manchin and other Senators to support climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act. After all, why else would a President support Willow — the largest oil project proposed on federal lands — if he believes climate change is an “existential threat” and promised that he would not allow drilling in the sensitive arctic, or on public lands and waters “period, period, period“?
Willow is a massive project that includes up to 250 new drilling wells, as well as hundreds of miles of roads, airstrips, and a new fossil fuel processing facility. All this in an area of the Arctic that is already warming at twice the rate of the rest of the country and is affected most by climate change. The willow project is opposed by local indigenous leaders, national environmental groups, and in 2021 Biden’s own Department of Justice declined to defend Willow in court.
But if the July move to support Willow was a bluff, now it’s time to call. We only have until Monday night to send in public comments, and then President Biden’s Bureau of Land management has to decide: are they on the side of the people and planet, or are they truly with the fossil fuel industry and polluters?
We are deeply indebted to out partners at Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) for leadership and materials related to this comment period, you’ll be redirected to their page after you comment – please check out their work and chip in to support them if you can.