Despite millions of comments in opposition, the Biden administration has approved ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow oil and gas expansion in Alaska’s Western Arctic. The largest new oil extraction project on federal lands in the United States, the project is a major setback for climate policy and will have devastating impacts to the entire western Arctic region, posing serious health, environmental, and food security threats to nearby Alaska Native communities.
After learning this news, Defenders of Wildlife’s Alaska Program Director, Nicole Whittington-Evans released the following statement:
“The Biden administration’s approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow project in the western Arctic of Alaska is a disappointing leap backwards, locking in oil and gas drilling and massive greenhouse gas emissions for decades, offsetting the administration’s priority to rein in climate change, and further imperiling climate sensitive wildlife including endangered polar bears.
“This project will impact designated critical habitat for Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, one of the most imperiled polar bear populations in the world, and will significantly impact the Teshekpuk Lake and Colville River Special Areas.
“It will also encourage further westward expansion of oil industry infrastructure, locking in unnecessary carbon pollution, habitat loss, and fragmentation. Willow will serve as a hub for future oil and gas industrialization and pollution for decades to come.”
Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.