Anchorage, AK

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.”

Caribou on tundra in NPR-A
Bob Wick/BLM

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit or follow us on X @Defenders.


Media Contact

Senior Vice President, External Affairs
Senior Director, Alaska & Northwest Programs


Northern Lights Over Brooks Range Alaska


A family group of southern resident orcas chasing a salmon - Image taken from an unmanned hexacopter at more than100ft - NOAA SWFSC, SR3 and the Coastal Ocean Research Institute - NMFS permit #19091 (1).jpg

Clean Water, Healthy Futures: Orca Month Targets Toxics

May 22, 2024 – Volunteers and advocates across Washington will speak out against toxic pollutants that harm orcas, salmon and people during Orca Action Month
2001 - Polar Bears - Mom and Cubs - Steven Amstrup USGS.jpg
Washington, DC

More than 200 Species Need Protection from International Commercial Trade, Defenders and Partners Tell Biden Administration

Defenders of Wildlife, together with NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) and Center for Biological Diversity, today asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to seek a ban on commercial trade for more than 200 species of animals and plants that are threatened with extinction, including reindeer, turtles, sea otters, tarantulas, aquarium fish, sharks, frogs, orchids, trees and over 50 coral species.